Aerosmith’s Joe Perry on Eddie Van Halen: “He Redefined Guitar Playing”

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Eddie with Joe and Steven before the show today.

Van Halen shared the stage today with Aerosmith for the first time since 1979. Recently, Aerosmith’s Joe Perry contributed to the hardcover photo book, Eddie Van Halen, by Neil Zlozower. The Van Halen News Desk has the exclusive on what he had to say about the first time he saw Van Halen in concert:

“Aerosmith was rehearsing for another record when Van Halen’s first album came out. One of the members of our road crew had the first album, and we went out and listened to it in his car. I loved that record and still love it. Eddie’s playing was just phenomenal. He took everything that he’d heard and put his own stamp on it. I thought, “Oh my God, this is great!” There were a lot of things he did where I was scratching my head and wondering how he did it, little tricks and things. I was blown away by what he was doing. Considering where Aerosmith was in our career, we were totally burned out, and Eddie came along like a breath of fresh air. It was fresh and hard, and I just felt this was the start of something new. It was kind of like when you first heard Nirvana or first heard the Sex Pistols. Eddie’s playing was revolutionary.

“Eddie’s a gifted, natural talent. He’s unstoppable. A musician like that comes along once in a decade or two, if you’re lucky. He reinvented guitar playing. He’s a born musician who just played and played and played and developed his own voice on the guitar, and he kept getting better with every record. The thing about Eddie is he never lost the rock ’n’ roll spirit to his playing. He wasn’t afraid to rock out on one note once in a while. In many ways, he redefined guitar playing. He did what Jimi Hendrix did, taking the same guitar that everybody plays and turning it into a different instrument.

“His guitar solo on “Beat It” is unbelievable. It’s right up there with Clapton’s solo on “Crossroads” or Jeff Beck’s solo on “Blues Deluxe.” It’s one of those solos that you can listen to over and over again wondering how in the hell he did it.

“I’ve never seen Eddie without a guitar in his hands. He invited me and Steven Tyler up to his house one time, and he came out to meet us, and he had a guitar in his hands. Every time I’ve seen him backstage he always had a guitar in his hands. He’s always playing. That’s the sign of a true musician’s musician.”

—Joe Perry

Enjoy Eddie’s guitar solo from today in Australia: