Eddie Van Halen was born in Amsterdam, Netherlands back in 1955 and since he was a little kid he was interested in music, like his older brother Alex, and they were influenced by their father who was a musician. They even learned to play the piano when they were young but what really drew their attention was Rock and Roll music that a few years later would change their lives completely.
The band Van Halen was formed in 1972 but only had the chance to release their groundbreaking debut album in 1978 that took the music scene by storm, especially due to Eddie’s incredible guitar playing. Over the decades, the late guitarist was praised by his skills and was compared to many other fantastic players, but according to Eddie himself, there were two guitarists he said he couldn’t replicate.
The 2 guitarists that Eddie Van Halen said he couldn’t replicate
Since he first appeared, Eddie Van Halen was compared a lot with Jimi Hendrix, as a guitarist who had a huge impact in the way the electric guitar was played. However, as the musician told Rolling Stone magazine in 1995, he couldn’t replicate Hendrix’s sound.
He was asked by the interview what it was like to be in Electric Lady studios, where Hendrix recorded many famous tracks. That happened when Kiss‘ bassist and singer Gene Simmons managed to help Van Halen to record their first demo in the 70s.
“Yeah (It was great). But I never learned a song by Hendrix except ‘Purple Haze,’ because that was a pop hit. I didn’t know how to get his sound. That’s what turned me off. The same thing with Jeff Beck. I just plugged into my amp, turned it all the way up and loved the way that sounded. For me, it was all Clapton, because he was so straightforward,” Eddie Van Halen said.
Talking with Howard Stern in 2006 (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage), Van Halen reflected on what Hendrix could do with the guitar.
“He had all this bunch of pedals and stuff, and I couldn’t afford the shit.” He then was questioned if he thought Hendrix was a “hack”. Then he replied saying: “No, no. He did some crazy shit. I don’t know, I couldn’t afford the wah-wah pedals, the fuzzbox, all that stuff, you know. I kind of did my own thing,” Eddie Van Halen said.
The musician said a few times during his career that he believed that Jimi Hendrix was “sloppy” when performing live in concert. He had said the same thing about the Led Zeppelin guitarist and producer Jimmy Page.
Also known as “a guitarist’s guitarist”, Jeff Beck is recalled as one of the most unique guitar players the music had. He had an incredible technique and really couldn’t be replicated. That’s something that Eddie Van Halen recalled in the conversation with Rolling Stone in 1995.
Although back already was one of the most praised guitarists in the world in the late 60s, Eddie only started to listen to his records in 1975, as he told Rolling Stone in 2011. It was after hearing the classic album “Blow By Blow” (1975) that he started to get into the guitarist’s music.
“I didn’t get into him until ‘Blow By Blow’. Just the instrumentalness of it. And ‘Wired’ (1976). Interesting stuff in there. I guess it was just the experimentation in there that I liked.”
“Jeff Beck is definitely a standalone. You never know what the hell he’s gonna do. My brother and I were in France 20 years ago, and Jeff Beck was playing. He was doing a rockabilly thing. And we were like, ‘What the hell is this?’ You never know what to expect with him,” Eddie Van Halen said.
Jeff Beck recognized Van Halen as a great guitarist. He told Guitar World magazine in 1985 that he would love to hear him playing the Blues more. “He brought tapping to the forefront. I still think he was one of the tastiest players doing it. It wasn’t his fault that all these other horrendous people tried to emulate him.”
“I actually saw Eddie play some blues once and it was really beautiful. It would be great to hear him play more in that style,” Jeff Beck said.