Eddie Van Halen on the band “light years” ahead of their time

Eddie Van Halen

Most guitarists can only hope to take their instruments as far as Eddie Van Halen went. Although he may not have intended to become an inventor every time he strapped on a guitar. Eddie was responsible for making the most of his instrument at all times. He tapped the fretboard with both hands, sending shockwaves throughout the rock scene. Though groundbreaking in his own right, Eddie’s licks drew inspiration from other guitarists. He identified Toto as the pioneer of studio possibilities.

In comparison to Eddie’s work with Van Halen, Toto was primarily made up of experienced studio musicians. Although they could all play convincingly, guitarist Steve Lukathur had no trouble transitioning between kinds of music. He had worked with everyone from Lionel Richie to Steely Dan as a studio musician.

Eddie proceeded to participate in various sessions throughout California, and one of the first times he worked with the band was as a sideman for ‘The King of Pop‘. Toto joined Michael Jackson’s studio sessions for what would become Thriller, serving as a session musician. This led to a request for Eddie to play the guitar solo on Michael Jackson’s single ‘Beat It’.

Eddie and Lukathur became great friends after the sessions. The Toto guitarist contributed vocals to the song ‘Top of the World‘ on Van Halen’s 1991 album For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. Eddie was already thinking about the guitar in a new way when Sammy Hagar was at the wheel. However, his session pals surprised him with the album Kingdom of Desire.

While the album lacked the big singles of the band’s prior efforts, such as ‘Africa‘ and ‘Rosanna‘, the sessions were any studio connoisseur’s dream. Aside from Lukathur and drummer Jeff Pocaro, a star-studded array of musicians contributed their textures to the album. This included session icon Jim Keltner performing percussion and longtime Tom Petty drummer Stan Lynch playing on a few songs.

When Eddie spoke with Lukathur after the fact, he expressed his belief that the Toto guitarist was pushing rock and roll into new territory. He told Guitar FTPM, “It’s a wonderful record.” I believe that if it is played on the radio, people will enjoy it. You haven’t had a record out here in five years. To me, the music you’re creating is light-years ahead of anything you’ll hear on the radio. “If only people knew you were the real shit!”

Although Eddie Van Halen admired his friend’s studio prowess, he would take a few more risks when it came to his band’s album. Throughout the album Balance, Eddie would use his guitar in a new way, experimenting with different sounds in the studio. He attempted to find the proper balance between the band’s piano-led melodies and the numerous tapping runs he would do on occasion.

Despite the positive publicity Van Halen received for the rest of their album output, Lukathur remained one of Eddie’s closest friends and mentors. Occasionally, they gathered for various jam sessions but never recorded anything. Despite being a champion of rock guitar, Eddie sought self-improvement. This realization came after listening to Lukathur wring passion out of his instrument.

Leave a Reply

You May Also Like