DREAM THEATER's John Petrucci has reflected on the passing of Eddie Van Halen, saying the VAN HALEN axeman's influence "on the guitar community" was "just unfathomable."
Petrucci discussed his appreciation for the groundbreaking musician, who died from cancer on October 6 at age 65, in a recent interview with Holland's FaceCulture.
He said (see video below): "It's interesting. As far as [Eddie's] influence and his impact on the guitar world, you kind of can't comprehend how big it was. Because when you think about all the guitar players that there are — electric guitar players — you can only name, like, a couple… Most people will probably to two that were game-changing, paradigm-shifting moments — [Jimi] Hendrix and Van Halen. And people can argue that there's other people; I get it. But there'll never be somebody like that again. So his influence globally on the guitar community is just unfathomable. The guitar was never the same.
"It saddens me to know that I'll never get to see him play again, that he died young," he continued. "We have his music to remember him by, but watching him play was really an incredible experience.
'For me, as a guitar player, I'll never forget when I heard 'Eruption' for the first time. I wasn't experienced enough as a guitarist, [and] I couldn't wrap my head around that being a guitar. It didn't sound like a guitar to me. I was, like, 'How is anybody doing that?' It sounded like a keyboard or something. And there was no YouTube or… I was too young to go to a concert, so I couldn't see what he was doing. I was just hearing all these notes flying by. Again, I didn't have the experience, so I didn't know there was a phaser on the sound and a tape delay. All I heard was a cascading flurry of notes, and it was just mindblowing — I'd never heard anything like that before. So, to me, creatively, as a guitar player, it sucked me in. I was, like, 'How do you do that? How in the world is somebody doing that?' And then you begin to explore. So he was a big, big influence on me, for sure."
Petrucci added: "I've seen interviews with him, and you really can see what an innovative mind he had, and how the things that he came up with, with amplifiers and technique, were all out of curiosity and asking questions: 'Hey, how come nobody ever did this before?' Or, 'I have this idea. I wanna be able to do this. I wonder how you can do it.' So he was this scientist at the same time. And that's a really cool side to see. If you've ever seen interviews with him, it's really interesting to watch."
Eddie died at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California. His wife, Janie, was by his side, along with his son, Wolfgang, and Alex, Eddie's brother and VAN HALEN drummer.
The iconic VAN HALEN axeman died from complications due to cancer, his son confirmed.
VAN HALEN was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2007.
Rolling Stone magazine ranked Eddie Van Halen No. 8 in its list of the 100 greatest guitarists.