Esquire did a great feature on Eddie Van Halen. They sat down with him backstage at the Garden to pull back the curtain of the man that is the heart and soul of Van Halen.

Thirty-five years on top and he had a new album, and a new tour.

Here are some highlights of the interview:

“It’s all in the fingers, man. He tells a story about when the band first hit. Van Halen was opening for Ted Nugent back in 1978 at the Capital Centre. Ted was cool enough to give the band a sound check. He’s standing off to the side and he’s listening to me, and he comes up and says,”Hey, you little sh***! Where’s your little magic black box?” I’m going, Who the f*** is that? And it was Ted. Hey Ted, it’s nice to meet you, thanks for the sound check. And he’s going, “Let me play your guitar!” I go, “Okay, here you go.” He starts playing my guitar and it sounds like Ted. He yells,”You just removed your little black box, didn’t you? Where is it? What did you do?” I go, “I didn’t do anything!” So I play, and it sounds like me. He says, “Here, play my guitar!” I play his big old guitar and it sounds just like me. He’s going, “You little s***!” What I’m trying to say is I am the best at doing me. Nobody else can do me better than me.

You know, Eric Clapton is Eric Clapton. Nobody does Clapton better than him. Nobody does Hendrix better than Hendrix. We’re not trying to be anything other than who we are.”

“It’s funny, I was doing a little bit of thinking why I’m always nervous, especially during interviews, because I rarely do interviews. And for one, a lot of people, just when I was growing up in school, people thought I was an a******, because I didn’t have much to say, you know what I mean? You know, the quiet guy. And it’s just because I was shy. The funny thing is, about the whole alcoholism thing: It wasn’t really the partying. It was like — I don’t mean to blame my dad, but when I started playing in front of people, I’d get so d*** nervous. I asked him, “Dad, how do you do it?” That’s when he handed me the cigarette and the drink. And I go, Oh, this is good! It works! For so long, it really did work. And I certainly didn’t do it to party. I would do blow and I would drink, and then I would go to my room and write music.”

“Everything’s changed now, everything. He even has to find a new place to write, because the classic studio where Ed has made many of the Van Halen records since his sound first hit the earth like a meteor — 5150 they called it — brings back all the bad memories of drugs and booze. It’s not a sanctuary like it used to be. I still love it as a recording studio, it’s a great sounding room, but I need a place where I can go that’s not so full of the past.”

You can read the entire feature on Eddie Van Halen HERE


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