Skip to main content

Watch Eddie Van Halen, David Gilmour and Les Paul Play Blue Suede Shoes with Stray Cats

(Image credit: Ebet Roberts/Getty Images)

On August 18, 1988, a horde of name-brand musicians got together to celebrate the life and music of guitar great Les Paul, who was 73 at the time.

The show that was filmed that night was eventually released on a now-sought-after VHS tape called Les Paul & Friends: He Changed the Music: LIVE at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York.

In short (in contrast to the tape's ridiculously not-short title), the cameras caught some magical guitar moments in Brooklyn that evening. You can relive one of them below.

Near the end of the evening, Stray Cats - featuring Gretsch-loving axman Brian Setzer - launched into Carl Perkins' Blue Suede Shoes. After singing all the verses, Setzer bellowed, "Hey, Eddie Van Halen, get your butt up here, man!" - thus opening the floodgates to an impressive list of guest guitarists.

Below, check out the jammy portion of the Blue Suede Shoes performance. It kicks off with a bluesy-tapping solo by Van Halen, followed by David Gilmour, B.B. King and Stanley Jordan (Waylon Jennings is clearly impressed by Jordan, as you can see in the clip). 

Up next is Steve Miller, who kicks off his solo by playing his Les Paul behind his back. Finally, Les Paul, the man of honor, appears, hoping to show the youngsters a thing or two.

The funny thing about the clip is how long it takes for everyone to appear on stage after Setzer calls out their names. Early on, Gilmour can be seen turning around and heading back off-stage for some reason.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month*

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Damian Fanelli
Damian Fanelli

Damian is Editor-in-Chief of Guitar World magazine. In past lives, he was GW’s managing editor and online managing editor. He's written liner notes for major-label releases, including Stevie Ray Vaughan's 'The Complete Epic Recordings Collection' (Sony Legacy) and has interviewed everyone from Yngwie Malmsteen to Kevin Bacon (with a few memorable Eric Clapton chats thrown into the mix). Damian, a former member of Brooklyn's The Gas House Gorillas (opens in new tab), was the sole guitarist in Mister Neutron (opens in new tab), a trio that toured the U.S. and released three albums (opens in new tab). He now plays in two NYC-area bands.