The rock legend that disappointed Eddie Van Halen

Eddie Van Halen

Any good rock and roll band will know how to maximize their live performance. Navigating the studio while making a record can be challenging. But there’s something special about being able to rip out one classic song after another while thriving off the energy of a paying audience. Eddie Van Halen made every concert a spectacle. He admitted that one of his favorite bands disappointed him when he saw them perform for the first time.

Eddie, however, would have happily gone to any concert playing at The Forum in California when forming his first bands with his brother Alex. Eddie was most likely going to hear the music. He learned his trade by watching his favorite acts live. He got the idea to tap on the fretboard from watching Jimmy Page play with Led Zeppelin.

On the other hand, Eddie believed that no one in England could have competed with Eric Clapton. After leaving The Yardbirds, ‘Slowhand’ would turn in one classic after another for the rest of his career. From forming the first supergroup Cream to making new and exciting strides in his solo career with tracks like ‘Cocaine’ and ‘Wonderful Tonight’.

Clapton had the idea of forming another supergroup before deciding to fly solo. After falling in love with George Harrison’s wife Pattie, Clapton poured his heart and soul into Layla (And Other Assorted Love Songs) as Derek and The Dominoes. Clapton showcased his best playing on songs like ‘Bell Bottom Blues’. It was the arrival of lead guitarist Duane Allman that changed the game. It wove a tapestry of guitar sounds ripped straight out of Clapton’s broken heart.

Eddie liked the sounds on the record. The band’s live performance left him underwhelmed when he saw them for the first time. Despite having the songs established in his mind, Eddie thought the group lacked sonically when he checked them out.

Eddie, on the other hand, claimed that his disappointment stemmed from how the musicians interacted onstage. He told Guitar World, “To be honest with you, I was expecting something more powerful.” If I had seen Cream, I would have been blown away because that was the era of Clapton that I adored. The show was more in the style of the Doobie Brothers, with a tambourine and bongo player. “There was no power.”

Clapton lacked the punch that Eddie expected from him. It didn’t take long for the young guitarist to develop his brand of heaviness. Inspired by Cream’s cacophonous sounds, Eddie would lay the groundwork for Van Halen, focusing on sounding heavier and crafting amazing riffs on songs like “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” and “Mean Street.” Eddie was happy to continue the tradition of taking the blues in wild and eccentric directions that had begun with Clapton.

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