12/28/1978 – Interview: Eddie with Steven Rosen

Home / 1978 / 1978 – Interview: Eddie with Steven Rosen
Dec. 28 date is a loose approximation
This to me might be the single best video on all of YouTube.  You hear a young and hungry Eddie Van Halen talking about the new album coming out (VH-II) and playing riffs from those songs.  Like a personal guitar lesson from The King!

Posted by Steve Rosen

This latest installment of the ongoing audio blogs is something a bit different. Back in 1978, I first met Eddie Van Halen. Their first album had just been released and they were playing at A Day On the Green, a huge outdoor concert put on by promoter Bill Graham. The shows began in 1973 and on July 23, 1978 the third concert series that year was held. The bands performing that day included Aerosmith, Foreigner, Pat Travers, AC/DC and Van Halen. My photographer friend Neil Zlozower introduced me to Edward and I remember him as being very friendly and excitable.

Several months later, Edward came over to my place in Laurel Canyon to do what would become the first of many in person interviews. We realized we lived pretty close to one another—he lived about a 10-minute car ride over the hill in Coldwater Canyon—and he wanted to come over and talk and play me the music from what would become Van Halen II. He pulled up in his car—hard to remember what he was driving at the time—knocked on the door and the first thing we did was go back to his car to listen to the new tracks. This was still the cassette era so he popped in a tape and began playing the music tracks from this yet unreleased second album. There were no vocals on it and as each song played through, Ed would point out little guitar things he was doing and tap out the rhythms to the songs on my leg.

After the tape was over we went back in the house. Ed had brought over one of his multi-striped Strats—I didn’t even know he was bringing a guitar—and I pulled out this ’67 Fender Strat that I had. And that’s what you’re listening to: Eddie Van Halen messing around on guitar in a very candid and unrehearsed moment For about 25 minutes or so before we actually began the interview, Ed was just noodling around on the guitars, playing riffs from the songs and fielding questions from me about how he did certain things. There are moments when you can hear me butchering some lick, trying to play what Ed has just shown me. I sound so bad—like some pathetic little bee buzzing around the strings—and I can recall at the time how horrible I sounded.

But that’s the thing about Ed—he didn’t care. He just loved playing the guitar. When he’d show me something and I try and try to play it, he didn’t discourage me or make me feel like a moron. He just waited there, watched my embarrassing attempts at copping a phrase, and didn’t say anything. Later, I’d go up to his house and he’d hand me one of his guitars while he picked up a bass and say, “Let’s jam.” That was ridiculous. I tried to tell myself, “Don’t overthink this. It’s no big deal. You’re playing guitar in front of Edward Van Halen while he plays bass.” Every instinct in me railed against the idea and my brain wanted to shut down what my hands were doing. I wanted to put down the guitar and just say, “Ed, I can’t do this.” That would have made Ed mad. When you deferred to him or made him seem like something special, that irritated him. For Ed, it was just jamming. The fact that I was—at best—a workmanlike guitar player meant nothing to him.

So if you listen this blog you’ll hear Eddie Van Halen playing some of the riffs from the second album. At times he’s playing his own guitar and then he’ll pick up my Strat and it’s just amazing to hear how he always sounds like himself. I’d pick up Ed’s guitar and I still sounded like me. We played through a little Fender amp I had and you can hear him remarking about how some of the stuff sounds better when it’s played loud. What doesn’t? There’s a little section in here where I ask him about Les Paul. About six years later, Ed would be inducted in the Rock Walk of Fame at the famous Guitar Center on Sunset Boulevard and have his hands placed in cement. Les Paul would also be inducted during that inaugural presentation and I’d have the distinct honor of bringing Ed and Les together for a rare interview.

The final seconds of this excerpt are a bit clipped but you can hear Ed say, “Actually I hate doin’ interviews.” In fact, we’d go on to have a wonderful conversation in the first of what would become a yearly ritual.

Note: The picture above was taken at that Day On the Green festival. We’re standing on this basketball court that had been set up for the performers.

This latest installment of the ongoing audio blogs is something a bit different. Back in 1978, I first met Eddie Van Halen. Their first album had just been released and they were playing at A Day On the Green, a huge outdoor concert put on by promoter Bill Graham. The shows began in 1973 and on July 23, 1978 the third concert series that year was held. The bands performing that day included Aerosmith, Foreigner, Pat Travers, AC/DC and Van Halen. My photographer friend Neil Zlozower introduced me to Edward and I remember him as being very friendly and excitable.

Several months later, Edward came over to my place in Laurel Canyon to do what would become the first of many in person interviews. We realized we lived pretty close to one another—he lived about a 10-minute car ride over the hill in Coldwater Canyon—and he wanted to come over and talk and play me the music from what would become Van Halen II. He pulled up in his car—hard to remember what he was driving at the time—knocked on the door and the first thing we did was go back to his car to listen to the new tracks. This was still the cassette era so he popped in a tape and began playing the music tracks from this yet unreleased second album. There were no vocals on it and as each song played through, Ed would point out little guitar things he was doing and tap out the rhythms to the songs on my leg.

After the tape was over we went back in the house. Ed had brought over one of his multi-striped Strats—I didn’t even know he was bringing a guitar—and I pulled out this ’67 Fender Strat that I had. And that’s what you’re listening to: Eddie Van Halen messing around on guitar in a very candid and unrehearsed moment For about 25 minutes or so before we actually began the interview, Ed was just noodling around on the guitars, playing riffs from the songs and fielding questions from me about how he did certain things. There are moments when you can hear me butchering some lick, trying to play what Ed has just shown me. I sound so bad—like some pathetic little bee buzzing around the strings—and I can recall at the time how horrible I sounded.

But that’s the thing about Ed—he didn’t care. He just loved playing the guitar. When he’d show me something and I try and try to play it, he didn’t discourage me or make me feel like a moron. He just waited there, watched my embarrassing attempts at copping a phrase, and didn’t say anything. Later, I’d go up to his house and he’d hand me one of his guitars while he picked up a bass and say, “Let’s jam.” That was ridiculous. I tried to tell myself, “Don’t overthink this. It’s no big deal. You’re playing guitar in front of Edward Van Halen while he plays bass.” Every instinct in me railed against the idea and my brain wanted to shut down what my hands were doing. I wanted to put down the guitar and just say, “Ed, I can’t do this.” That would have made Ed mad. When you deferred to him or made him seem like something special, that irritated him. For Ed, it was just jamming. The fact that I was—at best—a workmanlike guitar player meant nothing to him.

So if you listen this blog you’ll hear Eddie Van Halen playing some of the riffs from the second album. At times he’s playing his own guitar and then he’ll pick up my Strat and it’s just amazing to hear how he always sounds like himself. I’d pick up Ed’s guitar and I still sounded like me. We played through a little Fender amp I had and you can hear him remarking about how some of the stuff sounds better when it’s played loud. What doesn’t? There’s a little section in here where I ask him about Les Paul. About six years later, Ed would be inducted in the Rock Walk of Fame at the famous Guitar Center on Sunset Boulevard and have his hands placed in cement. Les Paul would also be inducted during that inaugural presentation and I’d have the distinct honor of bringing Ed and Les together for a rare interview.

The final seconds of this excerpt are a bit clipped but you can hear Ed say, “Actually I hate doin’ interviews.” In fact, we’d go on to have a wonderful conversation in the first of what would become a yearly ritual.

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  • http://www.johnnybeane.com/ johnnybeane

    Amazing stuff!!