Watch the two videos below for the first ever close-up look into Eddie Van Halen’s rarely-seen “Rasta” guitar!
Dweezil Zappa recently stopped by Norman’s Rare Guitars in Tarzana, California, showing off a very special, rarely-seen guitar, formerly owned by Edward Van Halen. Known only as the rare “Rasta” guitar, Ed painted it during the 1981 “Fair Warning’ tour in rasta colors – red, black, white, green, and yellow – a very unique look for a Van Halen guitar!
As Zappa explains, this is the guitar that used to be the black and white “Circles” guitar played by Ed in the “Unchained” live video from Oakland Coliseum on June 12, 1981. As Zappa says, “It got repainted on that tour by Ed, and he called it the Rasta guitar.”
Zappa points out that the remnants of the circles, from Ed’s original paint job, can still be seen in certain lighting, as well as some lettering on the back where it used to say ‘See You Later. Bye.’ “Cause at the end of the show Ed would flip the guitar over and it would just be a little note to the audience.”
Dweezil points out it’s fairly heavy at “14 or 15 pounds maybe. Imagine jumping off the Marshall stacks and doing all the stuff that Ed was doing.”
He recalls being a kid and seeing a photo of it in a Life magazine feature on Van Halen. “It stood out to me because it was the only guitar he had that had green in it.”
As for how Dweezil ended up with the guitar, he explains, “I was at 5150, visiting with Edward Van Halen, and it was sitting in the corner, and I said, ‘Hey, that’s the guitar from Life magazine!’ And somehow or another, he just said, ‘Hey, I don’t play that guitar much anymore … do you want it?’ I said, ‘Uh, yeah!'”
A couple other tidbits about the guitar: The neck is rumored to be from Ed’s black-and-yellow ‘Bumblebee’ guitar, but Dweezil doesn’t know for sure. And when Ed gave him the guitar, some “rock ‘n’ roll vomit” was actually on the back of the body. “We don’t know whose,” Dweezil jokes. Perhaps it was from Ed’s dog, because, “It looks like dog food remnants”, said Dweezil.
The Circles guitar has been reissued by EVH. “It wouldn’t surprise me if this one would end up being one of the EVH Art Series guitars.”
“A lot of people … who love the “Fair Warning album … this is sort of a mega guitar from that era, because it’s in those videos. Personally, it’s my favorite.”
“He’s obviously done so much for the world of guitar, and songwriting, and all that stuff. This is a very good example of an instrument that existed during a very special period in rock history.”
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