Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan was one of the fortunate ones who had the chance to watch Eddie Van Halen perform in the studio up close and personal. It’s a moment he’ll never forget. In fact, he referred to it as “a religious experience”.
“Oh my God! For American guitar players, he was the supreme thing. He’s the one who pushed us to be better than we probably would have been,” said Corgan during a recent interview on BBC Radio 6. “I was lucky because, around 1997 [or] ’98, there was a guitar magazine in America (Guitar World), and I went to them, and I said, ‘I’d really like to interview Eddie Van Halen and they said, ‘Why do you wanna interview Eddie Van Halen?’ I said, ‘Because I’d really like to introduce him to a generation of alternative guitar players.’ To me, he really is an alternative guitar player; I know he gets kind of lumped in the other way. And so they allowed me to basically have a four-hour interview with Eddie at his studio. I got to sit two feet away from Eddie and watch him play, and I’m telling you, it was like a religious experience. I mean, the man was so gifted, so kind.”
Corgan then told “a quick story” about Eddie’s legendary amp used for Van Halen’s 1978 debut album.
“Towards the end of the interview, I said to him, ‘There’s all those stories about the amp you used on ‘Van Halen I’ and tada tada da,” he recalled. “I said, ‘Do you still have the amp?’ He goes, ‘Oh, yeah.’ He takes me around the corner, kind of near the dustbin, and he’s, like, ‘There it is.’ I go, ‘What about all the stories that you did all this special modification?’ He goes, ‘Oh, it’s not true at all.'”
Listen to the full interview below:
You can read Corgan’s 1996 Guitar World interview with Eddie HERE.