In a new interview with RockSverige, guitarist/vocalist Richie Kotzen (THE WINERY DOGS, MR. BIG, POISON) spoke about what Eddie Van Halen meant to him. He said: "That would be the first and one of the few guitarists that I tried to emulate as a young student of the instrument. I will never forget the first time I heard him, and this is how out of touch I was. We were driving home, my parents had the radio on and I was in the back of the car and the guitar solo to 'Beat It' [from Michael Jackson] came on. That guitar started playing, and my dad was about to turn off the car, and I screamed and said 'No!', and I scared him. From there, I needed to find out who the hell was playing that. I had never heard a guitar sound like that. I had been around and I'd seen concerts and I was a [BLACK] SABBATH fan and a SCORPIONS fan, but I had never heard a guitar sound like that. That's how I got turned on to VAN HALEN and from there I bought every record they made."
Kotzen went on to confirm that he hadn't come across the band VAN HALEN before hearing "Beat It" for the first time. "Isn't that crazy?" he laughed. "I'll never forget, one of my young friends and I were looking through a magazine and and we saw a picture of VAN HALEN and said, 'Look at these guys. They ruined their guitars. Why would they paint their guitars like that?' I didn't say that. My friend pointed to the picture and said it, and we didn't know who VAN HALEN was. We knew who BLACK SABBATH was, we knew the SCORPIONS, but we didn't know about VAN HALEN."
Kotzen is currently promoting SMITH/KOTZEN, his electrifying collaboration with IRON MAIDEN guitarist Adrian Smith. The project's self-titled debut album will be released on March 26 via BMG.
Recorded on the Turks & Caicos Islands in February 2020, produced by Richie and Adrian and mixed by Kevin "Caveman" Shirley, this nine-track opus is described in a press release as "a consummate collaboration between these two highly respected musicians who co-wrote all the songs and also share lead vocals and trade off on guitar and bass duties throughout the record."
Eddie died last October at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California.
The iconic VAN HALEN axeman passed away from complications due to cancer, his son confirmed.
Rolling Stone magazine ranked Eddie Van Halen No. 8 in its list of the 100 greatest guitarists.