Jerry Garcia’s legacy is irreplaceable. The principal man behind the rock band Grateful Dead, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, one year before his death. Garica is known for his distinctive guitar playing and has some of the loyal fans you can dream of.
Another guitarist who was not really that different from Jerry Garcia was Eddie Van Halen. The two of them were basically a rival. What they both had in common is that they were more interested in speed playing. Other than that, Garcia liked to be more open and approachable on guitar while, Van Halen was more ferocious.
Looks like, Van Halen never really talked about Garcia. They didn’t really appear together too. Garcia passed away in 1995 and Van Halen died in 2020, thus, there were not really any options for collaboration.
Back in the 1980s, Van Halen was considered the god of arena rock. They were involved in every major rock show. During the same time, the audiences also looked up to the Grateful Dead. It was 20 years after their formation. Both Van Halen and the Grateful Dead dominated the arena scene.
While words between Van Halen and Garcia were not really exchanged, Garcia once shared his opinion on Van Halen’s guitar skills. In 1985 when he was being interviewed for Frets Magazine he was asked if he ever listened to Van Halen. Garcia commented,
“Not seriously, no. Because I can hear what’s happening in there. There isn’t much there that interests me. It isn’t played with enough deliberateness, and it lacks a certain kind of rhythmic elegance that I like music to have, that I like notes to have. There’s a lot of notes and stuff, but the notes aren’t saying much, you know. They’re like little clusters. It’s a certain kind of music which I understand on one level, but it isn’t attractive to me.”
Jerry Garcia had things to say about him for sure, but later on Van Halen’s singer, Sammy Hagar became friends with the Grateful Dead. More importantly, it was with the band’s rhythm guitarist Bob Weir. Hagar was also approached to fill Garcia’s shoes after Garcia’s death in 1995. He had things to tell about himself and Grateful Dead and commented about it to The Washington Post. Hagar said,
“I mean, even Bob Weir and the guys in the Grateful Dead back when they were first becoming the Dead without Jerry [Garcia], when they went back the first time as The Dead, they talked to me about maybe being the guitar-player singer, I would kind of replace Jerry, and I was so tempted to do that because Bob’s my dear friend, and I’m going, ‘Oh, man, I just don’t want to get caught up in that bag…'”