In a new interview, Alice Cooper has recalled the time Eddie Van Halen asked him to set up a guitar lesson with songwriter and session ace Glen Campbell.
Campbell is obviously best known for his mammoth country hits – including Rhinestone Cowboy and his recordings of Jimmy Webb’s Wichita Lineman and By the Time I Get to Phoenix – but he was a formidable guitarist, too.
That talent was further honed across countless sessions as part of LA’s rotating line-up of session regulars known as The Wrecking Crew. Many guitarists paid tribute to Campbell’s playing when he passed away in 2017 – and it seems his abilities did not escape Van Halen’s attention, years earlier.
For his part, Cooper developed a friendship with Campbell through the golf circuit – both of them having spent parts of their lives in Arizona. Now, in a conversation with BBC radio’s The Rock Show With Johnnie Walker, the frontman recalled getting a visit from EVH, ostensibly to play golf with Cooper.
"One time Eddie Van Halen called me up and said, ‘Hey, I wanna come to Arizona and play golf,’” Cooper tells Walker [as transcribed by Blabbermouth].
“And I went, ‘OK, great.’ Now, Eddie, after the first game of golf, he said, ‘How’s my game?’ And I went, ‘Eddie, you are a great guitar player.’ [Laughs] And he says, ‘Yeah, but what about my game?’ I go, ‘Eddie, you’re a great songwriter.’
At this point, as Cooper tells it, Van Halen dropped the pretence.
“He says, ‘Okay, let me tell you the real reason I wanted to come in,’” remembers Cooper. “‘I need for you to get me a guitar lesson with Glen Campbell.’
“Glen Campbell was such a great guitarist that other guitar players could hear what he was doing and go, ‘Oh my gosh, this guy's amazing.’ So Glen Campbell was going to give Eddie Van Halen a guitar lesson…
“He came over to the house. Glen lived pretty close to me, and they sat down, and he said, ‘Eddie, sit down. There's a guitar right over there…’”
We’re not sure what impact the lesson had on Van Halen, but Campbell might have been one of the only guitarists around at that point with the chops to keep EVH guessing.
For a taster of what it might have involved, check out this clip of Campbell and Phil Baugh’s guitar duel on a 1965 episode of Guitar Boogie.