In an exclusive interview with Classic Rock, May recounted his first encounter with Van Halen, recalling his astonishment at the guitarist’s skills. May said, “I showed up early, wondering who these Van Halen people were and what they looked like. As I sat there and saw them, my jaw dropped. Looking at Ed was akin to witnessing Jimi Hendrix for the first time. I was absolutely stunned.”
When asked about what set Van Halen apart as a guitarist, May emphasized his indomitable spirit. He noted that Van Halen had an incredible dynamism, never shying away from a challenge. May revealed, “Nothing was a problem for him. He would say, ‘Yeah, I can do this’ or ‘Hey, I can do that.’ Sometimes I feel disheartened by things, but I have to approach them from a different angle. In all the time I spent with him, I never saw Ed let anything bring him down. His spirit never wavered.”
May also highlighted Van Halen’s exceptional dexterity and described him as having a genuine lyrical sense in his playing.
Eddie Van Halen, who passed away on October 6, 2020, at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, California, left behind a profound musical legacy. Alongside his brother Alex, he formed the iconic band Van Halen in 1972, featuring David Lee Roth on vocals and Michael Anthony on bass. In 2007, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Van Halen faced numerous health challenges, including battles with mouth and throat cancer. He underwent surgery to remove part of his tongue in 2000 and later pursued radiotherapy in Germany. It is believed that his history of heavy smoking contributed to his prolonged struggle with cancer.
Brian May’s heartfelt tribute to Eddie Van Halen underscores the profound impact the legendary guitarist had on the music world and highlights his unparalleled talent as a guitarist and performer.