The world has been mourning the loss of guitar legend Eddie Van Halen, who passed away yesterday at the age of 65, from throat cancer. Musicians from all different genres have been paying their respects to the icon. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Ozzy pays tribute to Eddie Van Halen, recalling times they opened for Black Sabbath and Eddie’s big grin.
“I haven’t hung around with Eddie for quite some time, but I did see him from time to time. The last time I spent any serious time with him was on the last official Black Sabbath tour I did in ’79, when they opened up for us. They were such good guys to be around. We had such fun. Every time I ever saw Eddie Van Halen, it was fun.
“I remember seeing Eddie do that finger-tapping thing, and that was the first time I’d ever seen anyone do that. Just when you think nobody can make guitar playing exciting, somebody like that comes out. He was one of them.
“That thing with finger-tapping in the Eighties, with the hair bands, everybody was doing that finger tapping. Once you’ve seen the master do it, everyone else comes second. Anybody after Eddie Van Halen was in second, as far as I’m concerned. There were some other good players, and there are some very clever ones, but it’s not just playing an instrument. You’ve got to put the emotion behind you, and Eddie had all that. He made it look so easy.
“One thing I loved about Eddie was he always had a big grin on his face, and he looked like he was enjoying every second he was up there. Whether it was showbiz bullshit or not — I don’t think it was — he always looked like he was having the best time of his life up there.
“And Van Halen were a force to be reckoned with. They weren’t an easy band to follow. I remember one time, we did a gig in San Antonio; they went on, and the building was jampacked. You couldn’t get away from it. They went on and blew the roof off. And we had to follow them. I mean, it was such a hard gig for us. To follow Van Halen, you’d go, “Oh, fuck. No.” And after that tour, they took off.”
TMZ broke the news of Van Halen’s death, stating that he had passed at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, California. His son Wolfgang confirmed the news in an emotional social media post.