Why Eddie Van Halen rejected Jimi Hendrix comparisons

Eddie Van Halen

Eddie Van Halen was one of the most influential guitarists of all time. He modernized his playing, and via his work with Van Halen, he brought in the age of the masterful, in which mechanical proficiency was favored over emotive, blues-laden riffs of the past. With some of its other fundamental concepts, it promoted string-tapping and instilled metal guitar playing. His piercing approach drew comparisons to that of another icon, Jimi Hendrix.

Notably, Hendrix created the groundwork for players like Van Halen. He played the guitar harder than anyone before him, mixing natural ability with raw emotion and a taste for the latest effects. ‘Purple Haze,’ ‘Voodoo Chile,’ and the era-defining cover of Bob Dylan’sAll Along the Watchtower‘ stand out as his most piercing tracks.

Eddie Van Halen and Jimi Hendrix had a difficult connection. He famously stated that he thought the 1960s icon was a “sloppy” player. However, he publicly discussed how this figure influenced an important part of his approach.

He told Guitar World in 1981 that witnessing Hendrix taught him how to hold the pick when playing harmonics. “Jimi Hendrix influenced me on how to hold the pick when I do the harmonics,” he explained. I saw the Jimi Hendrix film and realized where the pick goes when it vanishes. He grips it between his middle finger’s joints. I, too, make unusual choices. “I use my thumb and middle finger.”

When speaking to USA Today in 2009, he was branded “the Jimi Hendrix of his generation.” However, Van Halen was quick to point out the contrasts between himself and the ‘Purple Haze‘ creator. While admitting that it was high praise and stating that he meant no disrespect to his late rival, he then detailed what he perceived as their gap, saying, “I create stuff.”

I say it’s a hell of a praise, but at the same time, I’m nothing like Jimi Hendrix,” Eddie Van Halen said. “I’m just saying I’m not like Hendrix because I make things.” He used so many effects and other things that I was the polar opposite. I wanted the guitar to do certain things, but no one built the guitar that I envisioned. Hendrix never did anything like that. He was a wonderful player, but if you’ve ever heard any live bootlegs of him, even some of the Woodstock stuff, you’ll notice how difficult it was for him to get that instrument even tuned.”

Watch Eddie Van Halen live in action below.

Leave a Reply

You May Also Like