AC/DC’s Angus Young: “I’d Put Eddie Van Halen in That Category of Being an Innovator Like Hendrix”

Angus Young from AC/DC has some nice words to say about Eddie Van Halen

“AC/DC played on a bill with Van Halen back in 1978 or 1979 for a Bill Graham Day on the Green show. I didn’t know much about Van Halen then except that I remember seeing film clips of them, especially the one of Eddie playing the solo piece, ‘Eruption,’ and I was very impressed. I didn’t meet Eddie until years later when there was a Monsters of Rock open-air festival in England. I was shocked to hear he liked my playing, because I’ve never rated myself as a guitarist.

“Eddie is an innovator. When I grew up we had a lot of guys from England who were great players, like Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, and Jeff Beck. And then, of course, when Jimi Hendrix came along, he changed the game. I’d put Eddie in that category of being an innovator like Hendrix. He changed the game for his style of playing. When Eddie came along he spawned so many imitators. Like Hendrix, suddenly you started to see people wanting to buy the same guitars he played and also play his licks. He turned the rule book upside down in terms of his approach. There was a lot of experimentation to his playing. Eddie also crosses into that avant-garde thing, which puts him in the same category as Hendrix.

“‘Eruption‘ is a favorite track. He’s got everything characteristic of his playing in that song–there’s a bit of everything.

“When Jimi Hendrix came along it was like, ‘Where did this guy come from?’ and I think that was the same feeling with Eddie. When Eddie appeared on the scene, every guitarist I ran into said, ‘You’ve gotta hear this guy!'”

—Angus Young

From the hardcover photo book, Eddie Van Halen, by Neil Zlozower. For more info on the book, visit Van Halen Store.

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  • 5152

    @Ken A:
    “Same goes for Vai, whose harmonic and rhythmic sensibilities are so far out there that he really does seem like an alien from another planet. I would put him in the same category as EVH and Hendrix for pursuing his love of strange sounds and throwing out the rulebook.”

    right on, brother!

  • Marcboston

    I agree with 5152 wholeheartedly. You synopsis is the best I have read any where.

  • Crizzle

    I saw that You Tube thing from 84 where Angus said VH was more of a pop band than AC/DC. Ang says AC/DC is more a R&R band in the traditional sense which I agree with. I didnt mind it actually when he said that. It kind of stocked the rivalry up a little. I think thats just the way Angus saw things at the time. Especially with songs like Jump and I’ll Wait going strong. Dont get me wrong Im a huge VH fan but I can see where he might say that.
    I also remember a EVH book I had in the mid eighties where Ed said something like.. when I think of heavy metal I think of bands like AC/DC. Obviously opinions changed for both of them.

  • Roth_Leaps_83

    @ Crizzle —-

    Yeah I agree that Angus was not being mean-spirited when he called CVH a “pop band” at the Donnington Festival, but I did think he was being slightly hypocritical for saying that because “You Shook Me All Night Long” was just as poppy and mainstream as “Jump”. Apparently, Angus in 1984 never heard “Unchained” or “Aint Talkin ‘Bout Love” or else he never would’ve made that statement.

    If you would’ve asked James Hetfield or Rob Halford in 1984 if CVH was a “pop band”, they’d probably say yes. There was a lot of fierce competition between hard rock bands and heavy metal bands in the 80’s, and they didn’t like each other very much. Things have mellowed out a lot in the last 25 years, which is why we see so many artists across many genres finally praising Eddie and giving him his due respect.

  • Reverend Draco

    I’d have to say. . .

    1. Jimi & Eddie
    2. Jimmy Page
    3. Pete Townsend
    4. Alex Lifeson
    5. or 6. Angus
    6. or 5. Eric Clapton & Billy Gibbons

    Sorry folk, Stevie Ray doesn’t make my list. . . just never did care for his music.

  • Dirty Skirty

    Writing + Quantity + quality + style + innovation

    1. Angus Young
    2. Eddie Van Halen
    3. Jimmy Page
    4. Eric Clapton
    5. Jimi Hendrix
    6. Peter Townsend
    7. Keith Richards
    8. Keith Nelson

  • DJ

    While driving to work this morning, I turned on “You Really Got Me” and focused specifically on Ed’s playing. I listened twice and literally got goose bumps the second time when it sinks in. After 5 minutes of silence, I listened to it one more. Totally amazing! And a better morning than getting a speeding ticket listening to Panama like I did yesterday.

  • Steve

    It’s astounding that everyone is still caught up in the whole “fastest gunslinger” mentality when comparing guitarists. The problem with EVH fans is that they will never accept the simple fact that Hendrix’s impact was and will always be greater across both guitar and music worlds. They are always trying to put EVH one up over Hendrix somehow, like he has been cheated or something, it’s juvenile and pointless. EVH built upon the platform laid by the innovative electric guitar players of the late 60s and early 70s. In his own unique way he put a fresh spin on a blueprint for electric guitar that was already in place. That blueprint however, didn’t exist prior to Hendrix.

  • 5152

    @ Marcboston:
    Cultural media, at this time, does not give credit to a popular artist unless he/she has done something sensational independent of the artistic product. Eddie did not become a political activist, pose with the Queen of England, bite off a bat head, overdose, or put a bullet in his own head. He sat down and wrote music. He admitted about suppressing Van Halen’s jazz and classical influence in the press during the early days — to sustain the band’s rock and roll mystique. Eddie is all about his musical quest, and he is grateful that his most intimate musical expressions garnered popular interest. He is unique in many ways, and I think he will be honored even more in the following years by a broader audience — who can see beyond Eruption.

  • phil

    Dirty Skirty, it’s nice to read an objective opinion like yours on this site. you make very valid points.

  • Ken A

    Robert Christgau, the only music critic who has any idea what he’s doing, once said that the great thing about Hendrix is that he put sound before notes and playing before writing. I can get behind that. The wild sound and the feel are the essence of rock guitar.

    He also said that EVH was colder and more structural than Hendrix, which sounds like a slight, except that Christgau did call Hendrix the finest guitarist in any medium, and any comparison to that is necessarily flattering.

    My personal opinion is that there’s a lot more classic (’50s era and prior) rock, blues, jazz, and country influence in Hendrix’s playing than people may realize. That’s not to say he isn’t an original–just that he’s the perfect example of reflecting your influences without simply repeating then.

  • Steve K

    There are only a few guitarist that have a unique sound when they play.Brian May/Eddie Van Halen/Angus.Don’t even try and say Slash/Clapton/Richards/or even worse Satriani/Via/Gilmore.Maybe the guitarist from Boston.

  • jaaphalen

    @ Lets Rock-you mentioned all those great bands and artists. Being in my teens during the 70s and early 80s I felt bad about not seeing The Beatles early Stones or even a little Elvis(a little). But boy am I glad I saw many of those bands you wrote about. My kids(ages 20-32) listen to alot of my stuff and love it! But the best comment you made was in the form of a question-when did we loose it? I remember The Who at half time of the Super Bowl 2 years ago-they were awesome! Last year The Black-Eyed-Peas-yeah they sucked. Please hurry VH.

  • jaaphalen

    @ Leaps-83 Yes there was a tension between hard rock bands and heavy metal. DLR used to joke how all the metal bands would wear their all leather and chains outfits, veins popping out of their foreheads and their angry songs and expressions during their shows. “Why so angry? didn’t I pay you guys enough money already?” Dave was funny but right. He would not let anyone describe VH as a metal band-just a good time rocking band.

  • Vanhalenfan5150

    Angus and Eddie are my favorite guitarists. This made my day

  • anythingleftinthatbottle

    Highway to Hell=Best of Both Worlds

  • freddiegirl

    Steve-Actually that blueprint did exist. Chuck Berry. He was the first to come out and really change how we see/play the electric guitar. Keith Richards and Angus Young will both tell you that they thing no one is more fun and more exciting on a good day than C. Berry. Then Hendrix came and changed the whole landscape and Ed did it again in 1978. I respectfully disagree with you about EVH’s influence; I think his influence went beyond Hendrix and is still there today and that has nothing to do with a ‘gunslinger’ mentality although Ed was the first guy to have that sort of image.

  • drop dead legs

    AC-DC have always been a class act….. Bon (RIP) was an icon, he lived the whole sex drugs & rock’n’roll ideology, I was saddened by his premature death by alcohol asphyxia (he played a mean set of bagpipes). Angus Young is in a class of his own, he has stamina and presence on stage like I’ve never seen, I saw em’ live (front pit on the rails) in Sydney March 2010 at ACER arena… they came, they saw, they kicked major arse on a massive scale …awesome!!!! and we had a ball!!! best $150 I ever spent, I also met Malcolm Young back in the 90’s (purely by accident as it happened)sweet guy, very quiet and unassuming, but one of the best right hands (rhythm) in the biz… why am I saying all of this???, because Acca-dacca are a class act and they know class when they see it… Angus recognised Ed as enigma (both still are – bless)and an innovator…. nice to see less sledging and more cross appreciation of one’s craft a rarity these days (are you listening to this Sammy???)

  • Al

    Agree with Angus as Eddie was an innovator. All those players who said “ain’t sh!t”…well why didn’t you think of it first?