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Adrian Smith: Eddie Van Halen and Jimi Hendrix “had the biggest effect on the electric guitar”

Adrian Smith of Iron Maiden onstage
(Image credit: Gonzales Photo/Terje Dokken/PYMCA/Avalon/Universal Images Group via Getty Image)

Iron Maiden electric guitar player Adrian Smith recently appeared on The Metal Voice to talk about his new fishing book, Monsters of River & Rock. But invariably the talk turned to guitars and, more specifically, Eddie Van Halen.

Asked if Eddie, who passed away on October 6 at the age of 65, was an influence on his playing, Smith responded, “Probably him and Jimi Hendrix, certainly in my lifetime, had the biggest effect on the electric guitar. I loved his playing, although when he came out, I had already been playing five or six years. If I had been starting out when I heard him, I would have just copied him, you know, like 99 percent of the other guitarists did.”

He continued, “But, yeah, he was fantastic. I'd love to have met him. I came close a couple of times, but I never met him. And I love his guitar sound. If I've got a guitar and an amp and I'm just trying to get a sound, I'd probably use him as a reference point."

As for his own guitar playing, Smith recently hinted at a long-rumored collaboration with Richie Kotzen, saying, "I'm doing a lot of singing, but the person I'm working with, we're sort of splitting the vocals. But that'll be coming. 

"I'm very excited about it," he added, "but I'm sworn to secrecy at the moment."