Eddie Van Halen: The Complete 1980 "Guitar Player" Interview - Tape 1


Oct 10, 2010
Ann Arbor, MI
Eddie Van Halen often claimed that the most important elements of his sound were his imagination and his hands: “The way I play is in my fingers,” he insisted. “I can play through any amp and it still sounds like me.” During the interview linked below, Eddie proves this beyond all doubt. Playing his unamplified Frankenstrat, he does note-for-note covers of favorite Clapton solos, demonstrates specific parts heard on the first three Van Halen albums, shows how he composes the band’s music, and demos original songs that were rejected by the band.

This interview took place a couple of weeks after the interview heard in “Eddie Van Halen: The Complete 1979 Interview (HD Audio).” Near the end of that conversation, Eddie asked me to write a cover story on him – his first one ever – for Guitar Player magazine. I quickly arranged for this to happen.

About two weeks later we met on the morning of January 15, 1980, at Neil Zlozower’s photo studio in Hollywood. Eddie drove himself over in his brand-new Jeep CJ. He walked in wearing beige corduroys and a black-and-white checkered shirt. He was carrying two guitar cases. One held a guitar he’d recently assembled using an extra-thick Boogie Bodies body and a Floyd Rose locking tremolo system. The other was the latest incarnation of what would become known as the “Frankenstrat.” At this time, the guitar’s body was spray-painted red with black and white striping. Its full-sized white pickguard had the standard holes for the two pickups nearest the neck, but there were no pickups in these positions. Eddie had enlarged the rear pickguard hole to accommodate a vintage Gibson P.A.F. pickup.

In addition to his extensive playing during this first part of our four-hour meeting, Eddie talked about a wide array of subjects, including his piano background, how he learned to play guitar, the differences between his “planned” and spontaneous solos, the limitations of rock and roll, blues influences, the importance of phrasing, where the band’s money goes, VH bootlegs, the recording of the just-mixed Women and Children First album, and, naturally, his pedalboard, amps, and guitars. I hope you enjoy the interview!

Eddie Van Halen: The Complete 1980 Interview - Tape 1 (HD Audio)

Coming next month: “Eddie Van Halen: The Complete 1980 Interview – Tape 2 (HD Audio).”

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Jan 26, 2007
JasO... if you are who I think you are... you were my Eng Comp II, then Creative Writing prof... and I remember the story about the first EVH interview... seems like it was one of your first assignments for GP, and you were back stage to interview another musician (I'll leave off the name) who blew you off... they had a basketball hoop setup in the back, and you went ovewr and were shooting hoops with a guy back there... you explained to him the story of getting blown off by the other guy... and he said "well you can interview me"... "who are you?"... "I'm Eddie Van Halen..."

(from WCC student about 2006-2008, Jim Hendee)