Slash Leads Eddie Van Halen Tribute at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
“Eddie Van Halen was a tremendously gifted musician,” declared Guns N’ Roses’ Slash. “His style and his sound were completely unique to him. He had a massive impact on guitar playing. I don’t think there’s anybody that’s picked up the guitar since 1978 that hasn’t been touched in some way by Eddie Van Halen’s influence. I’m going to miss his playing and I’m going to miss him as a friend.”
Kirk Hammett echoed similar sentiments, describing Eddie as “amazing” while recalling the late rocker’s lasting influence. “Not since Jimi Hendrix had there been a guitar player that had so much impact, and was so inspiring to me,” the Metallica guitarist explained. “He just explored the most simplest thing - a harmonic on his string - and brought it into this realm of technique that no-one even thought was possible. He was just, like, from a different planet.”
Tom Morello, known for his years in Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave, described Van Halen as “the Mozart of our generation.” “He had the kind of talent that maybe comes around once a century. Eddie Van Halen inspired me to play 20,000 hours, to try to get within 100 miles of his inspired mastery of the electric guitar.”
News of a tribute to Van Halen began spreading over a week ago, as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame prepared for the most unique induction ceremony in its history. The 2020 event was originally scheduled to take place in May, but was postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, a virtual event featuring pre-recorded segments was broadcast as part of an HBO special.
As part of the in memoriam segment, Slash, Hammett and Morello’s powerful words of admiration aired while archival footage of Eddie Van Halen was shown on screen. The legendary guitarist, who died on Oct. 6 following a battle with cancer, was inducted into the Hall along with the other members of Van Halen in 2007.