Few guitar stars have had as much of an impact on the instrument as the late Eddie Van Halen had. Through his stellar tone and unrivaled technical prowess, the electric guitar legend inspired legions of aspiring players, and continues to be a go-to resource for those who simply want to listen to, and learn, from a master.
As it turns out though, a young Van Halen also had an immediate impact on his very own seasoned contemporaries, and was so good that his live performances once even convinced late blues guitar titan Gary Moore to broaden his already extensive technical horizons by adding Eddie’s trademark tapping to his arsenal.
As revealed in an excerpt from Paul Brannigan’s upcoming book Eruption: The Eddie Van Halen Story, shared with Louder, Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott, Scott Gorham and Gary Moore all attended a Van Halen concert on September 14, 1978 to find out first-hand what all the hype surrounding the then-up-and-coming rock outfit was about.
Recalled Gorham, “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 with Van Halen – what a fucking band!’
“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?”
The trio were soon to find out for themselves that all the furor and craze surrounding Eddie Van Halen and his group was more than justified, after they witnessed them in action for the first time at Detroit’s Cobo Hall.
“So we were interested in this band we’d heard so much about,” continued Gorham, “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 to Gary 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.”
Sounds like practically everyone else’s first time listening to Van Halen ever – an initial sense of disbelief, a prolonged feeling of awe, then a frantic attempt to copy everything and anything that left his fretboard. Of course, Gary Moore probably coped a helluva lot better than most of us did…