Great White guitarist Mark Kendall shared his memories of Van Halen’s pre-fame days during a recent interview with Alabama Life & Culture.
Kendall, who grew up in Huntington Beach, California, was an aspiring guitarist in his teens when he first saw Van Halen perform.
“I was just kind of a beginner on guitar, starting to learn my way around the neck or whatever,” said Kendall. “I believe I was about 16. And a friend of mine had seen Van Halen, somewhere in a backyard, and he goes, ‘You’ve got to come see this guitar player,’ and we went and saw them. They played at a junkyard just like three blocks from my house, so we just walked over there. You pay a dollar and they had kegs and stuff. Eddie Van Halen was playing, it looked like a Les Paul. He didn’t have the whammy bar and all that, he wasn’t doing the ‘Eruption’ type stuff, but I could tell right away that he was special.
“There were a lot of great guitar players around but nobody, apart from Jimmy Bates, really played like he did,” Kendall continued. “There was a guy called Jimmy Bates that played with the band called Stormer. He was ahead of his time as well and he kind of played like Eddie, sort of, and I think Eddie really liked him – he was an influence, because I’d seen Eddie Van Halen at their shows, watching him play.
“But anyways, yeah, I kind of followed them around,” added Kendall. “I was like a little Van Halen groupie. Really, really liked them. Dave Roth was really a good frontman, and they were so tight. They played almost every night, all around.”
Van Halen at Pasadena High School – April 1975