"Eddie Van Halen Was My Roadie": Dweezil Zappa Tells Childhood Eddie Stories and Plays "Eruption"

(Image credit: The Interwebs)

Here's a little something I stumbled upon in my inbox this morning; I think you might appreciate it. It's a clip from Dweezil Zappa's July 11, 2012, "Zappa Plays Zappa" show in Raleigh, North Carolina.

That night, after he strapped on his striped Charvel EVH Art Series guitar, Dweezil told the crowd a few stories from his childhood—stories that happen to involve none other than Eddie Van Halen.

“At about 12 years old, I had been playing guitar for about six or seven months, and I got really interested in the music of Van Halen and Randy Rhoads," he said. "Beause at 12, in 1981 or whatever time that was, that was the most popular music of the time.

“And all of the sudden one day after school, the phone rings and it’s some guy saying he’s Eddie Van Halen and he wants to talk to Frank. And I’m like, This is the greatest day of all time!”

Dweezil’s mother, Gail, told him to get on the line to see if it sounds like Eddie, but as Dweezil puts it, “That was before MTV and before you could see interviews with your favorite musicians” [and know what they sound like]. With no way of knowing if it was really Eddie, Dweezil figured "what the hell?" and assured his mother it was him.

“Twenty minutes later, he’s at our house. He’s wearing the Women and Children First jumpsuit, and that is a bona fide superhero costume—I don’t know if you’re aware of it. He might as well have had at the smoke machines following him and the lights and the whole thing. ’Cause that’s all I saw, was like a superhero walk in the house. And I very politely demanded for him to play everything: ‘Eruption,’ the ‘Mean Streets’ intro…all the stuff.”

Dweezil then explains how after playing guitar for only nine months, he found himself recording “My Mother Is a Space Cadet,” with Eddie and Don Landee producing. The song, co-written by Dweezil, his sister Moon Unit and Steve Vai—who was in Frank’s band at the time—was his first single.

That led to Ed attending a talent show at Dweezil’s school and helping him with his band’s soundcheck and performance of “Runnin’ with the Devil.” Eddie not only showed him the right chords but even ran home to provide his own guitar for the show.

“That was full-service Eddie Van Halen,” Dweezil says.

So, yes, there's lots of talking in the video. If you'd prefer to skip right to the action, jump to the 5:14 mark, where Dweezil plays “Eruption,” followed by Van Halen's “Somebody Get Me a Doctor,” which features vocals by a Spandex-wearing David Lee Roth impersonator called "David Lee Sloth."

By the way, we think David Lee Sloth is a roadie named Pete Jones. Nice job, Pete!

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Damian Fanelli
Editor-in-Chief, Guitar World

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, was the sole guitarist in Mister Neutron, a trio that toured the U.S. and released three albums. He now plays in two NYC-area bands.