Formed by the brothers Eddie Van Halen (Guitar) and Alex Van Halen (Drums), alongside the bassist Michael Anthony and singer David Lee Roth, Van Halen released their groundbreaking self-titled debut album in 1978.
The distorted guitars and incredible playing technique of the guitarist mixed with the chemistry and energy the rest of the band had impressed the Rock and Roll fans and musicians.
In the 80s the “guitar shredding”, inspired mainly by Eddie’s playing was all over the place, with guitarists playing faster and faster. But still the 70s, there were according to Eddie, two guitarists who were copying his style.
The 2 guitarists Eddie Van Halen said were copying him in the 70s
In 1979 Van Halen had already released their first two albums which had important songs like “Runnin’ with the Devil”, “Eruption”, “Ain’t Talkin’ ’bout Love”, “Dance the Night Away” and “Beautiful Girls”. Those tracks helped the band to reach a bigger audience and have the opportunity to tour extensively across the United States.
Although they still weren’t one of the biggest bands in the world, they were already known, especially for Eddie’s playing. In an interview with Jas Obrecht for Guitar Player magazine during that same year, the guitarist complained that were two guitarist who were copying him at the time.
The American guitarist and singer Rick Derringer started his career much before Van Halen, in 1965 and released his solo debut in 1973. Besides being known for songs like “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo” and “Real American”, the musician also worked extensively with the brothers Johnny and Edgar Winter.
But as Eddie told Jas Obrecht in 1979, he wasn’t happy when Derringer was Van Halen’s opening act and according to the guitarist played his guitar solo.
“Rick Derringer opened for us last year, and he did my exact solo. After the show, we’re sitting in the bar, and I just said, ‘Hey, Rick. I grew up on your ass. How can you do this? I don’t care if you use the technique – don’t play my melody.’ And he’s drunk and stupid and going, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah.'”
“The next night he does my solo again. He (also) ends the set with ‘You Really Got Me,’ which is exactly what we do. So I hate to say it, but I just told him, ‘Hey, if you’re going to continue doing that, you ain’t opening for us.’ So I kicked him off. (…) It’s fucked, you know. Because I’ve seen him plenty of times. I’ve even copied his chops way back then,” Eddie Van Halen said.
Eddie continued saying that Derringer was a really talented guitarist that didn’t need to copy his stuff, since he played in amazing tracks like Johnny Winter’s “Still Alive and Well”. “‘Still Alive and Well’, stuff like that. And here’s the guy copping my stuff. It’s pretty weird,” Eddie said.
Tom Scholz (Boston)
During the same conversation with Jas Obrecht, Eddie Van Halen also named another musician who he said was copying him. According to the artist, the Boston founder, guitarist and producer Tom Scholz copied his guitar solo when Van Halen opened for them in the late 70s. He also wasn’t happy that Scholz wouldn’t socialize with the band before or after the concerts.
“Tom Scholtz from Boston too. We played right before them – I forget where – and I do my solo. And then all of a sudden he does my solo. And it was real weird, because it was a daytime thing. I was standing onstage, and the whole crowd was looking at me like, ‘What’s this guy doing?’ I was drunk. I got pissed.”
“Tom Scholtz is a real dick. He’s unsociable. I guess he just thinks he’s God or something. He never comes around, he doesn’t say hi. He doesn’t do anything. Just kind of hides out, runs onstage and plays, and disappears afterwards. So I started talking to the other guitarist (in Boston), and I told him, ‘Hey. Tell him I think he’s fucked!’ I was real pissed, you know. I don’t know. Now I’m just raggin’ (laughs),” Eddie Van Halen said.
Boston was formed by Scholz in 1975 and released their groundbreaking self-titled album one year later. That record had huge hits like “More Than a Feeling”, “Peace Of Mind”, “Foreplay/Long Time”, Rock & Roll Band and “Smokin'”.
It was a crucial record that helped the band to become one of the best-selling of all time. They have sold an estimated amount of more than 75 million records worldwide.