STEEL PANTHER guitarist Russ "Satchel" Parrish has reflected on the passing of Eddie Van Halen, calling him "a great guitar player and a great songwriter." The legendary VAN HALEN axeman died on October 6 at the age of 65 after a long battle with cancer.
Satchel spoke about his admiration for Van Halen during an appearance on the "Talk Is Jericho" podcast. He said (hear audio below): "A lot of people know this, but [STEEL PANTHER singer] Michael [Starr] and I used to be in a VAN HALEN tribute band [ATOMIC PUNKS] for years. As far as tribute bands go, that band started in the early '90s, just as a way to make money, but also because we were huge VAN HALEN fans, and we all grew up learning to play rock on VAN HALEN. That's the first stuff I remember hearing on guitar that blew me away when I was, like, seven years old. Somebody played me 'Eruption'. I didn't even play guitar yet, but I just went, 'Uhhh… That's a guitar?' I didn't know that a guitar could make that sound. And, of course, I think that was part of what made me become a guitar player, looking back in retrospect.
"It's so weird, because I never even talked to Eddie, I never met him one time, but he's been such a huge part of my life, from the beginning of me playing music," he continued. "Because he wasn't just a great guitar player either. Throughout my guitar playing and my music, my learning of music, I realized that one of the reasons why I always put on VAN HALEN instead of Yngwie Malmsteen… Yngwie is a great guitar player, but Eddie wasn't just a great guitar player and a great lead guitar player, he was also a great songwriter and a great musician. You can listen to any VAN HALEN songs — he cared about all the parts and all the rhythms.
"Eddie in the early days, listening back to some of his live playing, there's no guitar player that's been better than that, in my opinion. He was so on fire, and he had so much attitude. And his tone was so clean. Most guys would never be able to play the kind of stuf he got away with, with so much aggression and just attitude. It was unbelievable. He was a technician, but he was also such a great performer as well. And he didn't have to concentrate. How many guitar players do you know who could smile like Eddie and make it look so easy, and actualy look totally at ease, 'cause he was at ease, and play the kind of shit he was doing. It was mind-boggling. It was like he was laughing at all of us — like, 'You'll never be able to do this.'"
Satchel went on to say that he was shocked to learn of Eddie's passing.
"We all knew that he was sick, and we all had talked about it for a while, but the longer he went, the more you just kind of go, 'Oh, well, maybe it's not gonna happen,'" Satchel said. "And then all of a sudden, it happens, and it's like a ton of bricks.
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.