The annual NAMM Show in Anaheim, California is a great place to check out new musical instrument equipment, watch performances by some of the biggest names in music, attend classes and workshops on everything from music education to music retail to social media, and to simply kick back and enjoy a drink with the friends you made last NAMM, if you’re lucky enough to attend multiple times.
For the most part there’s a professional but loose vibe at NAMM. Since it’s [not] open to the public, everyone’s either there to work, or they’re maybe a preferred customer who’s there as a guest of a store and they understand they should be on their best behavior, lest it reflect badly on the store who invited them.
But there’s one thing that can quickly snap you out of the NAMM daze – that foggy state where after a few hours you begin to exist entirely in a world where tens of thousands of people are massing around amidst a cacophony of cymbals, guitars, basses and EDM equipment, and where your entire field of vision is constantly occupied by people, instruments and bright shiny things – and that thing is star spotting.
Okay, okay, it’s a guilty pleasure, and if you happen to work in the musical instrument industry or the media then you’re probably used to meeting the occasional famous musician. And you have to keep your cool when you do, because this is work, man! But sometimes at NAMM you might happen upon a favorite musician you’ve wanted to meet since you were 14, and you get that whole clammy hands, slightly dizzy, sure-you’re-going-to-say-something-stupid thing.
And that’s how I met Eddie Van Halen at NAMM.
Eddie made only a brief appearance at NAMM the day before the show opened, attending a private showcase/party very briefly with his son/bass player Wolfgang and members of the band Darkest Hour. And the mere hint of Eddie’s presence created a strange alteration in the mood of the room. Whereas normally even at these private events everyone is really loud, almost shouting to be heard over all the other people who are almost shouting to be heard, the crowd gathered around Eddie was silent. It was almost eerie: here was a guitarist who was so respected that everyone was able to contain their excitement and keep perfectly quiet, perhaps out of fear of making him want to make a hasty exit, or perhaps with elements of the famous ‘Sabbath Fan Flips Out’ video on YouTube still fresh in their minds.
But if you spend any time at NAMM at all you’re bound to bump into some of your favorite players (often literally, as one friend did when Kerry King from Slayer charged by). So here are a few of the fine folks seen at NAMM, either signing, performing or simply rubbing shoulders with the fans…
To view his other NAMM photos (but no more VH photos), continue to Gibson.com.