Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin were two of the most successful bands that appeared in the 70s. They influenced countless generations of musicians including the legendary guitarist Eddie Van Halen who would shock the music business with his talent in the late 70s.
Led Zeppelin came to an end after 8 studio albums due to the tragic death of their drummer John Bonham at the age of 32 in 1980. Deep Purple also lost an important member when Ritchie Blackmore decided to leave the band in 1975 and formed his own group Rainbow.
Although Eddie Van Halen became one of the greatest guitarists of all time, in the early days of the band he still wouldn’t get all the attention from other people, especially some of his peers.
When Eddie Van Halen met Ritchie Blackmore and John Bonham but they didn’t care
Van Halen was formed by the brothers Alex and Eddie in 1972 but they only were able to release their self-titled debut album in 1978. But before they gained a lot of recognition with that record, they still were playing in the bar circuit. During those years before they had a record deal, Eddie had the opportunity to meet some of his heroes. However, they weren’t very receptive at the time as Eddie recalled in an interview with Guitar Player magazine’s Jas Obrecht in 1979.
When asked which type of guitarist he liked at the time, Eddie said: “It’s funny. There’s two types of guitarists. Like Blackmore, I used to hate, because I met him once at the Rainbow with John Bonham when we were just playing clubs. You know, I grew up on him too. I ran over and said hello, and they both just looked at me and said, “Who are you? Fuck off.” It pissed me off.”
“And to this day I remember that. And then just recently Rainbow played the Long Beach Arena. I went down there. This is right after I won Best Guitarist (in the Guitar Player Readers Poll), which I’m real honored – makes me feel good. I went down there, in a way, with a vengeance, you know.”
“I just felt like saying, “Hey, motherfucker, remember me? About three years ago, when you treated me like shit?” But I didn’t. I just said hello, and he knew me, I guess, just through records and radio, and he complimented me,” Eddie Van Halen said.
A similar thing happened even after Van Halen was famous
Even after Eddie Van Halen already was a famous guitarist he still didn’t had a good experiencie meeting Blackmore. After the band already had released their debut album, he went to see Rainbow with the Irish guitarist Gary Moore (Thin Lizzy) and the keyboardist Don Airey took them backstage.
He recalled the story of that meeting in an interview with Mulatschag TV in 2020 (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage). “There was once when Gary Moore first came to L.A he befriended with Eddie. Because for the first time in his life he had someone that seriously frightened him. They came to a Rainbow gig at Long Beach and they both looked so young, especially Eddie.”
“Eddie wanted to meet Richie. I suddenly saw Richie coming and I said ‘Hey Richie! I want you to meet two people. This is Gary Moore and this is Eddie Van Halen’. Richie kind of stormed off (laughs). I don’t know what he thought. (Maybe that) I was trying to set him up or something,” Don Airey said.
They always respected each other and Blackmore praised him many times
Although those experiences weren’t so good for Eddie, the two guitarists always respected each other. Blackmore always had a strong and sometimes unusual personality, what might explains the experiences described before.
But the British guitarist praised Van Halen multiple times and even called him the “ultimate guitar hero” in an statement after Eddie’s death.
“Eddie Van Halen was a brilliant guitarist who started a technique of guitar playing which was emulated by a whole generation of guitarists. He was one of the nicest musicians I ever met in the music business.”
“Very shy and not at all conceited about his ability as a guitar player. Frank Zappa said he reinvented the guitar. I agree. He will be sadly missed. But his brilliant legacy will always be remembered. The ultimate guitar hero,” Ritchie Blackmore said.