Eddie Van Halen picks his favorite guitarists of all time. Eddie Van Halen is a famous guitarist who adds unique solo parts to his songs for bands like Van Halen and his solo projects and collaborations. In this article, we will list the 6 guitarists Eddie Van Halen picked as his favorite.
Eddie Van Halen was a pioneering and essential guitarist who transformed the world of rock music. He was born on January 26, 1955, and died on October 6, 2020. He is most known for co-founding the band Van Halen, which not only took his name but also changed the sound and style of rock guitar playing in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Eddie Van Halen‘s approach was distinguished by quick, two-handed fretboard tapping, harmonics, and a distinct finger-tapping manner that enabled him to produce unheard sounds in the rock music genre.
His most iconic moment he has occurred in 1978, with the publication of Van Halen’s self-titled debut album. The opening track, “Eruption,” had an awe-inspiring guitar solo that has since become famous. His guitar skills on songs like “Runnin’ with the Devil,” “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love,” and “Hot for Teacher” cemented his place as one of rock’s best guitarists.
Eddie Van Halen was a creative songwriter and a vital contributor to Van Halen’s songwriting process, in addition to his technical skills. He contributed to some of the band’s most memorable singles, including “Jump,” “Panama,” and “Jump,” demonstrating his versatility as a musician. Eddie’s influence stretched far beyond the popularity of Van Halen. His creative guitar playing influenced a generation of aspiring guitarists and helped shape the direction of rock music in the 1980s. He was a significant influence in popularizing the “shred” guitar technique and significantly impacted the development of heavy metal and hard rock.
Van Halen was an American hard rock band founded in 1972 in Pasadena, California by Dutch-born American brothers Eddie and Alex Van Halen, together with singer David Lee Roth and bassist Michael Anthony. The band’s career includes 12 studio albums, two live albums, two compilation albums, and 56 singles.
Van Halen has sold 75 million records worldwide and had thirteen No. 1 singles on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart as of 2007. According to the RIAA, Van Halen is the 19th best-selling music group/artist of all time, with over 56 million album sales in the United States, and is one of five rock bands with two albums that have sold more than ten million copies in the United States (Van Halen and 1984).
Eddie Van Halen’s Favorite Guitarists of All Time
Eddie Van Halen has shared his respect for other legendary musicians and rock and heavy metal guitarists. And Van Halen picks his favorite guitarists of all time. Regardless, he loves to listen to different genres but also loves rock and roll, blues, punk, and heavy metal musicians, specifically those who influence him.
Who are Eddie Van Halen’s favorite guitarists?
- Allan Holdsworth
- Eric Clapton
- Tony Iommi
- Jimi Hendrix
- Ritchie Blackmore
- Angus Young
During an interview with The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and Zócalo Public Square‘s “Is Rock ‘n’ Roll All About Reinvention?” program and other programs, Eddie Van Halen shared the top 6 guitarists of all time. Check out Eddie Van Halen‘s favorite guitarists of all time below!
1. Allan Holdsworth
Allan Holdsworth was a progressive and jazz fusion guitarist who died on April 16, 2017. His original approach to the guitar, his virtuosity playing, and his unusual harmonic sensitivities distinguish him as one of the industry’s most distinctive and renowned performers.
Holdsworth’s playing style was distinguished by its fluidity and legato technique, which enabled him to generate long, flowing lines on the guitar that resembled saxophone or violin phrasing. He possessed exceptional command of the instrument, which he tailored to his musical vision by employing unique scale patterns and various tunings.
He made significant contributions to the worlds of fusion and progressive rock. During the 1970s and 1980s, Holdsworth was an essential figure in creating jazz-rock fusion. His work with Soft Machine, Gong, and UK showed his ability to merge sophisticated jazz harmonies with rock energy.
Holdsworth’s solo career had an equal impact. Albums such as “I.O.U.,” “Metal Fatigue,” and “Road Games” showcased his compositional abilities as well as his love for pushing the boundaries of established musical genres. Holdsworth was a sought-after session musician who worked with various performers, including Jean-Luc Ponty, Stanley Clarke, and Tony Williams, in addition to his solo work.
Eddie Van Halen, Joe Satriani, Greg Howe, Shawn Lane, Richie Kotzen, John Petrucci, Alex Lifeson, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Yngwie Malmsteen, Michael Romeo, Ty Tabor, Fredrik Thordendal, Daniel Mongrain, John Frusciante, and Tom Morello have all cited Holdsworth as an influence.
“One of the most interesting guys on guitar on the planet,” according to Frank Zappa, and “I think Allan Holdsworth is the John Coltrane of the guitar,” according to Robben Ford. “I don’t believe anyone can do more with the guitar than Allan Holdsworth.”
Eddie Van Halen says why he likes Allan Holdsworth as one of his favorite guitarists of all time:
“Allan Holdsworth, that motherfucker is fantastic, I love him. He’s got a Rock sound. On U.K (Band) first album and song “In The Dead of Night”, I love the solo on that.
I love him, he is the best in my book. I mean, I can kind of play like him but it doesn’t fit our style of music. But he is a real artist. You know, I once saw Bruford at the Roxy hoping that Allan would be with him. I asked Bruce and he said: ‘You know Allan, he just like to play, he doesn’t like to tour, he doesn’t like the whole business bullshit. He just enjoys playing’.”
2. Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton, sometimes known as “Slowhand,” is a legendary guitarist and one of the most important figures in rock and blues music history. Clapton’s incredible career has lasted six decades, beginning on March 30, 1945, in Surrey, England.
Clapton gained fame as a member of The Yardbirds in the mid-1960s, where he showcased his virtuosity blues guitar skills. He eventually became a member of John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, where his reputation as a blues guitarist grew. His work with Cream, a power trio that included Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, established his place as a guitar superstar. Tracks like “Sunshine of Your Love” and “Crossroads” presented his distinct “woman tone” and ability to combine blues and rock perfectly.
Clapton’s songwriting has also left an eternal mark on the music world. Classics such as “Layla,” “Wonderful Tonight,” and “Tears in Heaven” show his capacity to write heartbreaking and timeless tunes.
Eric Clapton’s influence beyond his records. He has worked with a who’s who of music royalty, including The Beatles, George Harrison, B.B. King, and many more. His contributions to projects such as The Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass” have become iconic in rock history. Clapton’s live performances are famous for his burning guitar solos and emotional impact. His performance on “Unplugged” in 1992, which included the hit acoustic representation of “Layla,” earned him Grammy Awards and showed his ability to attract audiences with stripped-down, genuine performances.
Eddie Van Halen reveals why he likes Eric Clapton as one of his favorite guitarists of all time:
“It’s funny. When I do interviews and tell people Clapton was my main influence, they go, ‘Who?’ Because they’re thinking about Clapton doing ‘Lay Down Sally’, not the Bluesbreakers or Cream. I haven’t heard anyone do a long interesting guitar solo outside of early Clapton. I do a guitar solo in the live show which is long. Some people may think it’s boring, but I have fun. Clapton was my favorite.”
3. Tony Iommi
He was instrumental in shaping the sound of Black Sabbath, the band widely regarded as having invented heavy metal. His riffs, which can be heard on songs like “Iron Man,” “Paranoid,” and “Children of the Grave,” are known for being heavy, foreboding, and typically blues-inspired.
Beyond the strong riffs, Iommi’s lyrics and guitar technique were impressive. He helped to create the tone and ambiance that characterized Black Sabbath’s songs.
Tony Iommi’s influence has grown beyond heavy metal throughout the years. His creative guitar playing has influenced innumerable musicians from metal to rock to punk. His influence may be heard in the music of bands and musicians as diverse as Metallica, Nirvana, and Soundgarden. Aside from his work with Black Sabbath, Tony Iommi has been involved in several solo projects and collaborations, showcasing his flexibility as a guitarist.
Eddie Van Halen tells why he likes Tony Iommi as one of his favorite guitarists of all time:
“We have started trends, but that was not what we had in mind. When [Eddie] Van Halen started out, there was no path to fame. We just played what we liked. Even today it always comes down to the simplicity of rock and roll.”
4. Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix, also known simply as “Hendrix,” is considered one of the best and most influential guitarists in rock music history. Born on November 27, 1942, in Seattle, Washington, he unfortunately died on September 18, 1970, at 27.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s debut album, “Are You Experienced,” released in 1967, established Hendrix as a musical force to be reckoned with. The album included classic songs like “Purple Haze,” “Foxy Lady,” and “Hey Joe,” which showcased his creativity and guitar skills.
Hendrix headlined the historic Woodstock Festival in 1969, delivering a famous performance that included a blistering rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” on his guitar, serving as a strong statement on the turbulent social and political context of the moment.
“Axis: Bold as Love,” his second studio album, and the double album “Electric Ladyland,” established his reputation as a guitar prodigy and visionary artist. The lyrics of Jimi Hendrix frequently explored themes of love, freedom, and social consciousness, mirroring the countercultural movements of the 1960s.
Hendrix was a personable and compelling performer in addition to his guitar skills. His theatrical presence, legendary appearance, and colorful dress added to the mystique that surrounded him. His band, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, included drummer Mitch Mitchell and bassist Noel Redding, creating a tight and dynamic musical backdrop to his guitar pyrotechnics.
Rolling Stone magazine named Hendrix the best guitarist of all time in 2003.
Eddie Van Halen tells why he likes Jimi Hendrix as one of his favorite guitarists of all time:
“We didn’t really play-play, we just were there with guitars on the left. And he asked me who my favourite guitar player was. I said, ‘Well, it’s Jimi Hendrix.’ And he thought Jimi Hendrix was too sloppy; his favourite was Eric Clapton. He could play the solo to ‘Crossroads’ note-to-note, perfectly. As a kid, he just worked all those solos out. I was never patient enough to learn solos.”
5. Ritchie Blackmore
Ritchie Blackmore was born on April 14, 1945, in Weston-super-Mare, England, and is a pioneering figure in rock and heavy metal music. He is perhaps best known as the co-founder and founding guitarist of Deep Purple and Rainbow, two famous rock bands.
Blackmore’s guitar playing is distinguished by technical prowess, passionate soloing, and a neoclassical style. He mixed rock, blues, and classical music elements to create a distinct style that separated him from other guitarists.
From 1968 until 1975, Ritchie Blackmore’s career with Deep Purple produced some of the band’s best-known and enduring material. Songs like “Smoke on the Water” and “Highway Star” featured his piercing guitar riffs and instantly recognizable playing style.
Blackmore left Deep Purple in 1975 to join Rainbow, a band that let him to pursue his passion in medieval and classical music. Rainbow’s early albums, such as “Rising” and “Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll,” combined hard rock, classical influences, and Ritchie Blackmore’s maturing guitar skills.
Ritchie Blackmore has pursued various musical activities outside of Deep Purple and Rainbow, including collaborations with other musicians and a return to his love of Renaissance-era music with the band Blackmore’s Night, which he created with his wife, Candice Night.
Ritchie Blackmore has been regarded as one of the most influential guitarists in rock history throughout his career.
Eddie Van Halen shares why he likes Ritchie Blackmore as one of his favorite guitarists of all time:
Ritchie Blackmore I liked because of his vibrato bar use on ‘Deep Purple in Rock’ (1970). Also, they come out with great riffs. I mean, come on, “Smoke on the Water” is one for the history books.
6. Angus Young
Angus Young is a famous guitarist best recognized for his iconic position in the rock band AC/DC. He was born on March 31, 1955, in Glasgow, Scotland. Angus Young has also become rock music’s most recognizable and influential guitarist.
In 1973, Angus and his brother Malcolm Young co-founded AC/DC in Sydney, Australia. The band’s hard-hitting, blues-infused rock ‘n’ roll rapidly earned them a loyal fan base.
His solos, distinguished by lightning-fast runs and screaming bends, became a defining feature of AC/DC’s sound. Guitar riffs and solos on songs like “Highway to Hell,” “Back in Black,” and “You Shook Me All Night Long” are legendary.
The Gibson SG guitar used by Angus Young also contributed to his unique sound. He preferred the Angus Young Signature SG, which became an icon in the rock world.
Angus Young’s compositional contributions to AC/DC were necessary, in addition to his outstanding guitar skills. His skill in writing anthemic rock songs helped the band’s international success. AC/DC’s albums, especially “High Voltage,” “Highway to Hell,” and “Back in Black,” are considered rock ‘n’ roll classics, and Angus was instrumental in establishing their sound.
Malcolm Young, Angus’s brother and AC/DC co-founder, died in 2017, leaving Angus as the band’s lone remaining original member. Angus continued to perform and record despite his death, and his guitar work was as powerful as ever.
Eddie Van Halen reveals why he likes Angus Young as one of his favorite guitarists of all time:
“I love ‘em and Angus, they’re all good friends, and Brian, and Angus’ brother. We went and saw them when they played L.A., they’re great guys. But I’m going, ‘Holy s**t, we gotta follow these guys.’
So we didn’t blow them away. I’m just saying we blew people’s minds because they are in a funny way very basic as I am. They’re no frills really, except that I do crazier things on my guitar maybe with the techniques.”
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