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The guitarist that Eddie Van Halen said was a chameleon

Eddie Van Halen


The guitarist that Eddie Van Halen said was a chameleon

Formed by the brothers Alex and Eddie Van Halen in 1972, Van Halen struggled playing in the bar circuit until they finally signed a record deal and released their groundbreaking debut album in 1978. Eddie’s unique take on the guitar influenced countless artists who started to immediately try to play like him and there were many imitators of his style in the Rock and Roll scene especially in the 80s.


Over the decades the musician always praised guitar players he admired. One of them was a good friend of his and he described him as a “chameleon”.

The guitarist that Eddie Van Halen said was a chameleon

There are different types of guitarists, those who are really good at a few styles and those who really can play anything really well. Like many guitar heroes, Eddie Van Halen was really good at his style and genre, but he really admired artists who could really fit into many different genres and could really play everything.

One of them was his good friend Steve Lukather, who is known as the guitarist of Toto and a legendary session musician. In an interview with Rolling Stone in 2011, Van Halen praised him and called him a “chameleon”.

“He’s a studio guy. He started out playing on so many people’s records that he could play any style you wanted. He just amazes me at what a chameleon he can be. (Steve) can throw himself in any situation and shine.”

He continued:

“It’s almost hard to tell who’s really him. I guess it’s probably all of them, everything he’s ever been exposed to is who he is. He’s kind of a player’s player, a musician’s musician. I’m more of a straightforward rock & roll guitarist, blessed to be in a kick-ass rock band,” Eddie Van Halen said.

Although he is known as one of the founders of Toto, Lukather also gained more recognition for being one of the most frequent Ringo Starr collaborators.

But after he helped to form Toto, he also focused on his work as session guitarist and he played with many famous artists. He collaborated with names like Michael Jackson, Cher, Alice Cooper, Chicago, Neil Diamond, Elton John, Quincy Jones, Joni Mitchell, Diana Ross. They are only a few of a huge list that shows how versatile he is.

How Eddie Van Halen and Steve Lukather first met each other

Toto and Van Halen curiously released their debut albums in the same year and Eddie and Steve also met each other in that year. In an interview with Rock History Music in 2023 (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage), Lukather recalled how they first met each other. “I’ve met him at the California World Music Festival in 1978. Both of us had our first albums out and I obviously wanted to meet him. (…)”

“I’ve always think that Van Halen (wasn’t a band, but a guy called Van Halen) but I never heard him until the first album. We were just peas from the same pod. We would laugh, we (were two goofs playing guitar). I said ‘We should hang’ and he phoned me, invited me to his house and kinda never left.”

“I loved him like blood and were just guitar buddies. We were real friends, we went through the trenches. Life, kids, divorce, new things, bands, you know, we had a lot in common. And we lived close to each other and we were also troublemakers at at time, you know.”

Steve Lukather continued:

“We were young and it was fun until it wasn’t and then we stopped. I have so many insanely great memories of Ed that I would never share. But I’ve always have right here (in my mind). I’ll be the old guy sitting in a fireplace that will go ‘”Yeah, I got a couple stories of Ed,'” Steve Lukather said.

David Lee Roth didn’t like him that much

Although Eddie Van Halen and Lukather were really good friends, the original Van Halen vocalist David Lee Roth didn’t like him that much. He recalled in an interview with Sunset Sound Recorders (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage) that once he entered the studio where the Hard Rock band was recording and he was looking for Eddie. However, David Lee Roth wasn’t really happy to see him.

“I walked in the studio looking for Ed once and Roth was sitting there with Donn Landee (Producer and engineer). I walked in like the ever jovial self: (saying) ‘Hey man, what’s up. Where’s Ed?’ And Roth looked at me like I just killed his parents or something. The look on his face was like ‘What are you doing here?’ Like, ‘How dare you share the same air?’”

Steve Lukather continued:

“I got the vibe right away and said ‘I’m just looking for Ed, man’. Donn was like ‘No, no, he’s over there’, and I got out of there quick. I’m a friend of all those guys. I just never knew David,” Steve Lukather said.

Toto has sold an estimated amount of more than 40 million records all over the world. They also recently reached the number of more than 1 billion streams on Spotify with their hit “Africa”.

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

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