Is this Eddie Van Halen’s best guitar solo ever?
The life of Mike McCready, guitarist for Pearl Jam, changed at 11 when the guitar teacher showed him a masterpiece by Eddie Van Halen. Is this the greatest achievement of the musician, who died this Tuesday?
“When I was 11, I was at my guitar teacher’s house and he played ‘Eruption’. It sounded like he was from another planet. I was just learning basic chords, things like AC/DC and Deep Purple; ‘Eruption’ didn’t seem to make much sense, but it was glorious, just like listening to Mozart for the first time”. The words are from Mike McCready, guitarist for Pearl Jam, when urged to choose the ‘guitar’ that changed his life. In the December 8, 2011 issue of Rolling Stone magazine, dedicated to the most influential guitarists of all time, the lord of the six strings of Pearl Jam did not hesitate: his choice could only be Eddie Van Halen, the ‘guitar hero’ of Van Halen, who died this Tuesday.
“Eddie is a master of riffs: ‘Unchained’, ‘Take Your Whiskey Home’, the beginning of ‘Ain’t Talking ‘Bout Love’. He gets sounds that are not necessarily guitar sounds many harmonics, textures that appear only by the way he handles the pick. There’s a moment in ‘Unchained’ where it seems there’s another instrument in the riff,” McCready exults.
“Much of what happens is in his hands: the way he holds the paddle between his thumb and middle finger, which releases the index finger for tapping. When I found out that he played like that, I tried it myself, but it was too strange. But beyond that, Eddie has soul. It’s like Hendrix: you can touch the things he’s done, but there’s always one key factor you can’t reach. (…) You understand when you’re in front of a master,” he concluded.