One of the finest guitarists and musicians of all time is considered to be Jimi Hendrix. He experimented with feedback as part of his inventive guitar playing, and he was known for his use of distorted amps, a wah-wah pedal, and a Fender Stratocaster. His contributions to guitar rock helped him become well-known and solidified his place in history.
Many musicians regarded Hendrix as their favorite artist. Jimi Hendrix was referred to be “the greatest electric guitar player who ever lived” by Neil Young in his official biography. He had an impact on Stevie Nicks’ music, manner, and humility, she said. Billy Joel even claimed to be one of Jimi Hendrix’s roadies in the late 1960s to get into one of his shows. Since Hendrix, several guitar greats have credited him as having influenced their music.
Eddie Van Halen, though, was a rock icon who didn’t appear to think much of Hendrix’s playing. Adrian Vandenberg, a former Whitesnake guitarist, discussed his experience with Eddie Van Halen in a 2020 interview with Kylie Olsson for Ultimate Guitar. He describes how Jimi Hendrix was deemed “sloppy” by the Van Halen guitarist.
He reveals: “We didn’t really play-play, we just were there with guitars on the left. And he asked me who my favourite guitar player was. I said, ‘Well, it’s Jimi Hendrix.’ And he thought Jimi Hendrix was too sloppy; his favourite was Eric Clapton.”
He continues, “He could play the solo to ‘Crossroads’ note-to-note, perfectly. As a kid, he just worked all those solos out. I was never patient enough to learn solos.”
Hendrix and Van Halen played guitar in different ways. Van Halen emerged in the 1970s glam rock scene, while Jimi Hendrix was a member of the hippy psychedelic movement of the 1960s, creating music for acid trips and Woodstock. Van Halen were leading the way as peppy hair metal replaced hazy garage rock as bands like Bon Jovi and Kiss gained popularity.
Van Halen’s music also featured blues-inspired guitar, which is why they could have preferred Clapton over Hendrix. The guitar playing of Van Halen featured his distinctive tapping, a modified “Frankenstrat,” and use of dynamics. Like Hendrix, Van Halen had a significant effect on a variety of rock musicians; even Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour acknowledged this.
He stated the following in an interview with Guitar Classics in 1985: “I can’t play like Eddie Van Halen. I wish I could. I sat down to try some of those ideas, and I can’t do it. I don’t know if I could ever get any of that stuff together. Sometimes I think I should work at the guitar more. I play every day, but I don’t consciously practice scales or anything in particular.”
Despite the fact that Hendrix and Van Halen have quite different guitar-playing styles, both are regarded as some of the best guitarists of all time. In the 1960s, Hendrix invented psychedelic rock, and in the years that followed, Van Halen invented glam rock. Every generation of artists afterward has been inspired by their musicianship, which is widely praised and adored within the larger rock genre.