Testament guitarist Alex Skolnick appeared on Premier Guitar‘s video series Hooked to talk about an often overlooked classic from Van Halen’s 1978 debut album – “I’m The One”.
While it was Eddie Van Halen’s instrumental “Eruption” that ignited his fire, it was “I’m The One” that influenced the kind of guitarist Skolnick would become.
“It’s among the riffs that have had the biggest impact on me,” said Skolnick in the video below. “I didn’t know I wanted to be a heavy rock guitarist. I just liked all kinds of music. I was learning The Beatles and Chuck Berry and KISS and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, [an] all crazy mix of stuff. It never occurred to me to be a virtuosic guitarist, not even a lead guitarist, let alone a heavy rock guitarist. That all started with this song. That’s why I chose this riff.”
Skolnick talked about what makes the “I’m The One” riff so undeniable.
“It just has so much attitude,” he said. “It’s just a sneer right? It’s just like, RRRRHH! It’s got that blues attitude, in your face. There’s something almost aggressive and punk rock and metal about it yet it’s so precise and very hard to play.”
Skolnick added that “I’m The One” and “Hot For Teacher” are the “quintessential up-tempo Van Halen boogie songs” while also noting that ” target=”_blank” rel=”noreferrer noopener”>Deep Purple’s “Lazy” are other noteworthy boogie songs. He noted, “But Eddie just turbo charged it and there’s nothing like it. I hear it to this day and it knocks me out.”
“I’m The One” Isolated Riff: