When Van Halen was formed in 1973 by the brothers Alex and Eddie Van Halen, Heavy Metal music already existed for a few years and was already showing the musicians from that era that they could really play loud and experiment with heavy riffs and vocals. Although the American band had a sound which was more close to Hard Rock, Eddie always shared his love for Metal. When the band was still in the bar circuit they even used to cover many famous Heavy Metal groups.
During his career that lasted until his death in 2020 at the age of 65, Eddie Van Halen talked a lot about other artists. He even named who in his opinion is the father of Heavy Metal.
The opinion that Black Sabbath was the band that created Heavy Metal is almost unanimous. The reason is that they were really the first ones to combine heaviness and lyrics that really could send shivers down the spines of listeners at the time. Eddie Van Halen’s opinion was the same, since he told Rolling Stone in 2011 that the father of Heavy Metal music was the Black Sabbath co-founder and guitarist Tony Iommi.
He mentioned the British guitarist when he was being asked about his influences. About him, Eddie said: “He was the father of heavy metal in my mind.” He was then asked if Iommi inspired him to “tune down” his guitar. The Dutch-American guitarist replied: “Well, that was more because it was easier on the singer”
“And on top of that, if you listen to our first batch of records, I never tuned to anything. I never tuned to a piano or a tuning machine. So I always would just pick up my guitar and the bass player would tune to me. So we were always in the cracks (between piano keys). I’ve found that most of the things that I’ve stumbled onto were all accidents, you know?” Eddie Van Halen said.
Tony Iommi is the only member of Black Sabbath who was part of all the eras of the band. So he appeared on every record the band ever made. Known also as the “Riffmaster”, Iommi continues to be one of the most influential guitarists in the world. He curiously had to adapt his guitar playing and sound after he lost the tips of his fingers during the last day of his work in a factory in Birmingham.
Both guitarists were really good friends, they first met each other when Van Halen was Black Sabbath’s opening act back in the late 70s. As any guitarist of that era, Iommi was really impressed by what Eddie could do with the guitar. Van Halen used to perform many Black Sabbath tracks in the bar circuit before they got their first record deal. In some occasions Eddie himself would occupy the vocals.
In 2013, Guitar World made one interview with Eddie and Tony Iommi side by side to talk about their careers. The Van Halen guitarist recalled Sabbath’s influence, saying: “We played just about every Black Sabbath song. I used to sing lead on every Black Sabbath song we did. Things like ‘Into the Void,’ ‘Paranoid,” and ‘Lord of This World,’ Eddie said.
Curiously, Eddie Van Halen almost appeared on a Black Sabbath album. Back in the 90s he was in England and went to visit Iommi in the studio while he was recording Sabbath’s 1994 album “Cross Purposes“. Eddie was invited to play a guitar solo in the song called “Evil Eye” but his part didn’t end up in the record. Iommi recalled that an interview with Rolling Stone, saying that he just couldn’t reproduce the guitar solo Van Halen composed for the track. That forced him to make a new solo so that he finish the song.
During the same conversation, Iommi praised the late Eddie saying that he kept improving his guitar skills throughout the decades. He also said that likes to think about him as an inventor. The main reason was because he always wanted to come up with something new. So reason he kept working on his own guitars and amplifiers to get the sound that he wanted.
I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG