UPDATED 9/26/14: A month ago, Jason Becker, the famous guitarist afflicted with ALS, challenged David Lee Roth, Eddie Van Halen, and John Mayer to do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Mayer filmed his ice bucket challenge, and Roth publicly made a donation and urged others to do so. No one heard from Ed Van Halen. A week later, Jason said, “It doesn’t matter. Eddie has done so much for me. It is incredible how much he has helped me and my whole family.” Becker says Van Halen “saved” him and his family when they were having a major financial crisis, and he also got Warner Bros. to release Becker’s 2001 album Perspective. “So,” says Becker, “[Eddie] doesn’t have to get wet.”
And then today (Sept 26th) Jason posted the following on Facebook:
So he made another donation, after all.
Our original story is below:
Guitarist Jason Becker Talks Ice Bucket Challenge and Eddie Van Halen
Jason Becker, a former guitarist for David Lee Roth who has lived with ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) for 25 years, is thrilled to see what the ice-bucket challenge is doing in the fight against the disease.
“I love it. It is amazing,” Becker tells Billboard via phone from his home in Richmond, Calif. “At first I didn’t get it, but man, the awareness and money it has raised is incredible. I hope something great comes out of it for ALS patients.”
ALS has robbed Becker of his ability to speak or move. He communicates with a system designed by his father, Gary, where Becker uses his eyes to “spell out” what he wants to say by looking at letters on a letter board, and a caregiver says the words for him.
In the video below, Jason does the ALS challenge and nominates friends David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen to do the same.
“I just can’t thank everyone enough for their support, especially during this ice bucket thing,” adds Becker. “Man, the love I feel is huge.”
According to Becker, Roth has donated to the ALS cause. Regarding Van Halen, he hasn’t heard from him, but “it doesn’t matter. Eddie has done so much for me. It is incredible how much he has helped me and my whole family.” Becker says Van Halen “saved” him and his family when they were having a major financial crisis, and he also got Warner Bros. to release Becker’s 2001 album Perspective. “So,” says Becker, “[Eddie] doesn’t have to get wet.”
Dave & Jason: Becker played guitar on David Lee Roth’s A Little Ain’t Enough but was forced to pull out of the supporting tour when he was diagnosed with the disease shortly before the tour began.
Watch a video of Eddie and Jason:
It was with Becker, who has lost almost all muscular control and is now confined to his bed, that Edward made a heart-wrenching plea to help find a cure for ALS by donating to MDA. Edward made an appearance on the 31st Annual Jerry Lewis “Stars Across America” Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) Labor Day Telethon in support of Jason Becker, who is suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease), also known as “ALS.” The telethon was taped at CBS Television City in Hollywood, CA, and aired on 9/01/96 and 9/02/96. Edward’s segment was taped in Richmond, CA, on 8/31/96.
MDA is the world’s leading voluntary health agency, sponsoring neuromuscular disease research. They support hundreds of research projects at universities and medical centers throughout the U.S. and abroad, seeking the causes of, and treatments for, 40 neuromuscular diseases. The 1996 telethon raised $49 million ($74 million in today’s dollars).
Eddie performs at the 1996 Jason Becker Benefit Concert:
This nearly eight-hour benefit concert for ALS took place on Nov. 17th, 1996 at the Riviera Theater in Chicago, IL. It was held in honor of former David Lee Roth guitarist Jason Becker, who is suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease. The benefit featured Edward Van Halen on guitar, Steve Lukather on guitar and lead vocals, Billy Sheehan on bass, and Pat Torpey on drums. The group was decked out in matching black berets and white tank top undershirts and was billed as The Lou Brutus Experience. The name was chosen during a radio interview the day before at Chicago’s WRCX 103.5 (hosted by Lou Brutus). Callers were encouraged to phone in their band name suggestions, with Edward wanting “something sick, but fun.” Suggested names included Four Play, Bad Ass Barnyard Animals, and Delicious Vomit.
VHND.com will feature an exclusive video of that concert at a later date.
More about Jason:
When Becker, 45, was first diagnosed with ALS, doctors gave him only a few more years to live. Even more devastating: The guitarist had talent comparable to greats like Van Halen and Yngwie Malmsteen, and had just replaced Steve Vai in Roth’s solo band. But Becker defied medical odds by surviving decades longer than first predicted. He now composes music with the assistance of a computer program and collaborators. For example, three new tracks he wrote post-diagnosis are included on his 2008 album Collection.
Jason’s fight with ALS began one night in May 1989 when he was awakened from sleep with an intense cramp in his left calf. He’d had cramps in the past, but this one stayed with him the remainder of the night. Upon getting out of the bed the following morning, he noticed that his calf felt tired and lazy.
Shortly thereafter he toured Japan with his band Cacophony, comprised of himself and fellow virtuoso Marty Friedman, who now held down the lead guitarist slot in Megadeth for awhile.
Cacophony released two albums: 1987’s Speed Metal Symphony (Shrapnel SH-1031) and 1988’s Go Off! (Shrapnel SH-1040) before parting ways. Following the tour, Jason left Cacophony to concentrate on his own music. All the while the lazy feeling in his left leg remained.
Jason’s first solo effort after the disbanding of Cacophony was entitled Perpetual Burn (Shrapnel SH-1036).
In November 1989 the guitarist moved from Richmond, CA, to Los Angeles to record with Roth. It was then that he went to see a doctor about his calf.
After a series of tests, it was determined that he had ALS. Jason pressed on, undaunted and enjoying the dream he was living: writing and recording with Diamond Dave. His condition was worsening, but he didn’t give up.
To help out:
Donate directly to Jason and his family here: www.jasonbecker.com
Or donate to ALS here: http://www.alsa.org/donate/