Toto guitarist Steve Lukather opened up about the many sides of his friend of 40-plus years Eddie Van Halen.
“He loved everybody, but he kept his cards to himself,” Lukather told PEOPLE. “He was a family man. That was the only thing that mattered. He was all about his son Wolfie. And his wife Janie, when she came along.”
Lukather added that performing with Wolfgang during the band’s 2007 tour was his “greatest pride and joy”.
He added: “I remember him telling me about it ’cause I’ve gotten to do it with my oldest son,” he says. “I get a rush writing, recording and playing with my son. He could relate to that and what that felt like watching the two little s–s grow up and turn into fine, upstanding, talented young men.”
Before becoming close friends with Eddie, Lukather was first a fan. When he was “19 or 20 years old,” he heard Van Halen’s self-titled 1978 debut album.
“I heard the first album while I was making my first record thinking I was pretty good for a kid — then I f–ing heard Ed!” he says. “I went, ‘Who the f– is this guy?! How’s he doing this?!’ That’s how everybody felt. It was like an alien landed from another planet and showed us a new way. I said, ‘Okay, first off, I’m going to find this guy and be his friend.’ I just wanted to be a piece of somebody that brilliant.”
Lukather’s Instagram Post On The Day Of Eddie’s Passing (10/6/20):
Lukather’s opportunity to befriend Eddie came along later that year, when Toto got booked to play the California World Music Festival alongside Van Halen, who were the headliners.
“Everybody wanted to stand on the side of the stage and watch Van Halen because they were the headliner of the night,” Lukather said. “We [had already played] and Eddie goes, ‘No, I want him to be on the side. I really like the way that guy plays. I liked that record, “Hold the Line.” He could stay on the side of the stage.’ They didn’t anybody else in the band on stage but me. I sat on the stage in the lotus position watching him with my jaw dropped. He kept smiling at me, and I just kept giving him the thumbs up.”
“We hugged for a few seconds afterwards and then he called me on the phone and he said, ‘Come on up to my house. We’re going to hang out,'” he continued. “He was there with Don Landee, the original engineer for Van Halen, who was a friend of mine. We got together and it was like, man, I found a long lost friend. He goes, ‘Do you want to go to the Rainbow [Bar] or something?’ I said, ‘I’d rather slit my throat with a box cutter.’ He grabbed me and gave me a kiss on the lips. He goes, ‘Thank God!” From that moment on, we were best friends.”
You can read Lukather’s entire interview in the latest issue of PEOPLE which is on newsstands now.
Eddie Van Halen performs with Toto during the Jeff Porcaro Tribute Concert held at The Universal Amphitheater in Los Angeles on December 14th, 1992: