The 2 guitarists Eddie Van Halen thought were “sloppy” playing live
Not always what music fans hear on the records will be reproduced by the artists note by note at their live concerts. This often raises a lot of discussions if the musicians are doing it because it can’t be done live, or if they chose to do it differently, or if they are being “sloppy” when playing the tracks. Over the decades many legendary guitarists talked about their peers and one of them was Eddie Van Halen.
So Rock and Roll Garage selected the 2 guitarists that Eddie Van Halen said were “sloppy” playing live and what was his opinion on them.
The 2 guitarists that Eddie Van Halen thought were “sloppy” playing live
The guitarist Jimmy Page started his career at an early age, becoming a very successful session musician in England, having the opportunity to record with many acclaimed artists until the mid-60s. That gave him the knowledge he needed to produce all the Led Zeppelin albums, which became some of the best-selling records in the history of music.
Even though it takes discipline and a lot of concentration to record a studio album, Page is often criticized for being “sloppy” when playing live, not always playing the songs note by note like they were first made in the studio.
In interview with Guitar World magazine back in 1981, when Van Halen already had three studio records out and were one of the hottest bands in the business, Eddie talked about Jimmy Page.
The musician praised the Led Zeppelin guitarist as a producer and in the studio but criticized the way he played live in concerts.
“Jimmy Page is an excellent producer. Led Zeppelin and Led Zeppelin II are classics. As a player, he’s very good in the studio. But I never saw him play well live. He’s very sloppy. He plays like he’s got a broken hand and he’s two years old. But if you put out a good album and play like a two-year-old live. What’s the purpose?” Eddie Van Halen said.
But there never were any hard feelings between the two guitarists, since they became friends over the decades. Eddie even said in an interview for the documentary “The History of Rock N’ Roll” (1995) that it was Jimmy Page who inspired him to do the “funny things” he did on his guitar.
The last time that David Coverdale saw Van Halen was with Jimmy Page
The Whitesnake vocalist and leader David Coverdale even revealed in a conversation with Eon Music back in 2020, after Van Halen’s death at the age of 65, that the last time he ever talked with the guitarist was when they were in a hotel with Jimmy Page.
“Edward, the last time I saw him, I was sitting in my hotel suite in London with Jimmy [Page]. It was like ten o’clock in the morning. We were just having a very elegant gentleman’s cup of tea. Tea pot and everything! [laughing]. The door to my suite goes, and Michael McIntire, my co-producer who was working with us. He gets up and opens the door, and his jaw hits the floor because he’s like a total Van Halen fan, and Eddie [casually] goes; ‘is David in?’ [laughing hysterically].”
David Coverdale continued:
“And I wasn’t under my own name! And Mikey walks in and he goes; [meekly] ‘Oh, it’s Van Halen’, and Edward just pushes past. I go; ‘Edward, how are you doing?’ And he goes; ‘alright, great to see you… Ah! Jimmy Page! Jimmy Page!’
“Well first off, he goes to my minibar immediately at ten o’clock in the morning and takes a fucking Heineken out. He’s at Jimmy’s feet, and he picks up my acoustic, and he’s like; ‘how did you play this fucking thing?!’ [laughing]. You know, it’s amazing; I had Eddie Van Halen and Jimmy Page sitting there. Eddie had a Heineken, and Jimmy and I had a cup of tea!” David Coverdale said.
The musician covered the Led Zeppelin classic song “Rock and Roll” during Farm Aid in 1985 alongside the Van Halen vocalist Sammy Hagar.
Jimmy Page lamented Eddie Van Halen’s death
Jimmy Page usually doesn’t release many statements about the death of Rock and Roll artists but he paid tribute to Eddie Van Halen after his death in 2020. He called the Dutch-American guitarist a pioneer and praised his technique.
“It is with great sadness that I heard the passing of Eddie Van Halen. He was the real deal: he pioneered a dazzling technique on guitar with taste and panache that I felt always placed him above his imitators. It was good to see him featured at the Met’s Play It Loud Exhibition. R.I.P. Eddie,” Jimmy Page said.
Since Van Halen released their self-titled debut album in 1978, Eddie Van Halen has been compared with Jimi Hendrix that was something that the musician tried to correct, since he believe his guitar playing was very different from Hendrix’s style. Talking with Spinner (Via VHND) back in 2009, he said that it was great compliment to be compared with Hendrix but also said that he couldn’t always keep his guitar tuned during live performances.
“I say it’s a hell of a compliment, but at the same time I’m really nothing like Jimi Hendrix. I’m just saying I’m very different than Hendrix because I create stuff. He used so many effects and stuff that I was the complete opposite. I wanted the guitar to do things, but nobody built the guitar that I wanted.”
“Hendrix didn’t do things like that. He was an amazing player, but if you ever heard any live bootlegs of him, even some of the Woodstock stuff, it’s hard for him to keep that thing even tuned,” Eddie Van Halen said.
The ex-Whitesnake guitarist Adrian Vandenberg had the opportunity to meet Eddie a few times and said in an interview with Kylie Olsson back in 2020 that the musician thought that Hendrix was “sloppy”.
“I went to Eddie’s home a bunch of times when I was recording in 1994, the Manic Eden album. (It was) a group I had with Rudy Sarzo, Tommy Aldridge, and Ron Young. We were recording pretty close to Eddie’s house – and he’s Dutch, as most people will know. So it was for him a lot of fun to talk in Dutch. His wife didn’t understand what we were talking about, of course.”
Adrian Vanderberg continued:
“We didn’t really play-play, we just were there with guitars on the left. And he asked me who my favorite guitar player was. I said, ‘Well, it’s Jimi Hendrix.’ He thought Jimi Hendrix was too sloppy. His favorite was Eric Clapton. He could play the solo to ‘Crossroads’ note-to-note, perfectly. As a kid, he just worked all those solos out,” Adrian Vanderberg said.
In an interview with Guitar World magazine in 1981, Eddie said that Hendrix inspired him especially on the way he used to hold the guitar pick when he did harmonics. He discovered that technique when he watched a movie of Hendrix playing, “the pick goes when it disappears. He holds it between the joints of his middle finger. I pick weird too. I use the thumb and the middle finger,” Eddie Van Halen said.
Eddie had the opportunity to perform Hendrix songs a few times and even recorded one in the studio. “If 6 was 9” was released in 2020, after Eddie’s death, by the keyboardist David Garfield. The cover was also made alongside Michael Landau (Vocals and guitar), Will Lee (Bass) and Simon Phillips (Drums).
Hendrix used too many equipments according to Eddie
One of the main reasons why Eddie was never much into Hendrix was because according to him, the American guitarist used too many equipments to get his guitar sound. In 2011, he told Rolling Stone in 2011 that he never bought a record Hendrix had made, because he couldn’t afford the equipments he used and that Hendrix he was “more abstract in his approach”.
Eddie said the same thing in an interview with Howard Stern in 2006 (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage). “He used a bunch of pedals and stuff. I couldn’t afford the shit.” The guitarist was then questioned if he thought that Hendrix was “hack” and he replied: “No, no, no. He did some crazy shit, but I don’t know. I couldn’t afford the wah-wah pedal, the fuzzbox, all that stuff. So kind of did my own thing,” Eddie Van Halen said.