In a recent interview by Jim Dunlop, Alice In Chains lead guitarist Jerry Cantrell recounts the prank battle between Van Halen and Alice In Chains as they toured together in 1991:
“A lot of pranks get pulled on stage, it’s kind of a tradition to fuck with each other at the end of the tour, especially the opening bands. I remember the Van Halen guys got us like four times in one set, back in ’91, at the end of that tour. When we came out on stage, they had taken a bunch of three-foot strips of duct tape and put them all over the stage face-up, so we walked out and within the couple seconds we were all dragging around huge wads of duct tape on stage. They sent out some strippers, not very attractive ones, who stayed out there for a whole song. Then they sent out one of their techs, I think he was a guy named Zeke, in a Little Bo Peep outfit with some live sheep. And at the very end of our set, we were playing “Man In The Box,” and their crew came out and started dismantling our entire set around us—they left Sean with a kick and snare, left me with one cab, they just unplugged Mike Starr. And that was all in one set! I don’t think anyone has ever topped that commitment to fucking with the opening act.
“On the flip side of that, there’s a photo [seen above], which I think some people have seen, but I don’t think is necessarily public knowledge… So Van Halen used to do this signature walk across the stage, and at the time they had these skimpy panties that they would sell to the chicks in the audience. Really skimpy panties. So we took some of these panties and put them on—of course they weren’t big enough keep our junk in, so we had to turn them around with the butt parts in front to keep our stuff together—and put on some combat boots, and we made ourselves up as strippers and did that Van Halen signature walk across the stage behind them, and they didn’t know it was happening, except for Alex. There’s a great photo of it, taken right as Eddie turns around and realizes what’s going on, and he’s totally losing it. He’s one of those guys who never fucks up. I’ve seen him play in so many different states, and he’s always on, but hearing him miss a couple notes while getting a laugh out of us was great.”
Earlier in the interview, Cantrell was asked about how he found his signature tone. His answer included this tidbit about Eddie:
“I remember hearing stories of Van Halen opening for Ted Nugent, and Nugent going out to watch Eddie, saying, “What is this guy playing through?!” Then he went and plugged into Eddie’s stuff, and he sounded like Ted Nugent. I have first hand knowledge of that: When we toured with Van Halen, sometimes I’d be late getting to sound check and Ed would be on stage playing with my band, plugged into my stuff, and he sounded like Eddie Van Halen. And when I played through his stuff, I sounded like me. So gear can only get you so far with tone and sound adjustment, but basically at some point, you are who you are, and that is literally in your flesh. You know, it’s not the car, it’s the driver.”
Cantrell also cited Van Halen as one of his influences for songwriting.
You can catch the full interview over on Jim Dunlop’s website.