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Slash: This is What Guitarists Miss When Trying to Emulate Eddie Van Halen

Slash (left) and Eddie Van Halen
(Image credit: Eduardo Valentine/AFP/Getty Images, Ross Marino/Getty Images)

When GP rounded up more than a dozen electric guitar heroes and asked them to share their thoughts on Eddie Van Halen in the days following his death in October 2020, one thing stood out.

There was far more, almost all of the guitarists pointed out, to Eddie's playing than just his technical brilliance. It's a sentiment that top-hatted Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash echoed as well, in a recent interview with producer Dave Cobb on Apple Music’s Southern Accents Radio (opens in new tab).

“When I first heard… the Van Halen debut record, it really fucked me. That was a heavy fucking record,” Slash said, when asked about Van Halen's influence.

“That was the moment that the '70s just changed… And as a guitar player, I was just a kid, I was just picking up the guitar at that time. I hadn't even started at that moment. I started like the following year, but when I started getting into guitar playing, everybody was trying to emulate Eddie.”

While doing so, Slash argues, many guitarists missed – in their pursuit of technical perfection – much of what made Eddie's playing so special.

“They were all sort of focusing on the obvious techniques and the fucking finger tapping and the harmonics and the tremolo bar stuff and all these really fucking great techniques that Eddie had,” says Slash. 

“But the way that he did it was such a part of his personality and it was such a part of his melodic sensibility that it had this really sort of musical fluidity that nobody after that really ever came close to, playing that style of guitar playing, and so I always loved Eddie.”

For his part, Slash is currently prepping the release of 4, his upcoming album with Myles Kennedy & the Conspirators. Set for a February 11 release, it was prefaced by the hard-rockin' single, "The River Is Rising,” and recorded live with Cobb in Nashville’s legendary RCA Studio A.

The follow up to 2018’s Living the Dream, 4 will be released on Gibson's newly-founded record label, and can be preordered here (opens in new tab).

Jackson Maxwell
Jackson Maxwell

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.