It's no exaggeration to say that Eddie Van Halen's volcanic displays of virtuosity, showmanship, and technical prowess on the electric guitar changed the instrument forever.
In his wake, his techniques inspired untold thousands of young, up-and-coming guitarists to bend the rules and dare to take the guitar to parts unknown.
What might be a little less obvious though, is how Eddie left a mark on his already-established guitar god peers.
In an excerpt from Paul Brannigan's upcoming book, Eruption: The Eddie Van Halen Story (published exclusively by Louder (opens in new tab)), Thin Lizzy guitarist Scott Gorham recounts the first Van Halen gig he, Thin Lizzy frontman Phil Lynott, and then-Thin Lizzy guitarist Gary Moore ever saw, at Detroit's Cobo Arena on September 14, 1978.
What the trio witnessed left even them – seasoned rock veterans already – dumbstruck.
"We were on the same label in America, Warners, and whenever we hooked up with anyone from the label, you always heard, 'Wow, man, I was just out with Van Halen – what a fucking band!’" Gorham says in the book. "It got to the point where Phil would tell them, 'Look, if you get into this fucking car, you’re not going to talk about Van Halen, all right?'
"So we were interested in this band we’d heard so much about. And these boys came on and just shredded everybody a brand-new asshole. They were amazing. When Eddie started doing his tapping thing, I turned around to Gary [Moore] and said, 'What the fuck is that? What is he doing there?' Gary was just staring at him, and he said, 'I don’t know.'
"Ten minutes later, I went to ask Gary another question, and he was gone. The next day, I was standing in his hotel room, and he said, 'Hey, check this out...' and he started tapping away. He’d gone back to the hotel the night before to teach himself how to do it."
If, like Moore on that fateful night, you now find yourself in the mood to learn (or brush up on) Eddie Van Halen's tapping approach, give our EVH techniques primer a read here.
Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com and GuitarPlayer.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.
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