Hear 20-Year-Old Eddie Van Halen Covering Queen in Newly Discovered 1975 Recording

Last month we shared a newly discovered recording of Van Halen performing the Kinks’ “All Day and All of the Night” live in 1976 at the Pasadena Civic. That recording was unearthed by author Greg Renoff while he was researching his new book, Van Halen Rising.

Renoff has now shared yet another—and even older—newly discovered gem: Van Halen covering Queen’s “Now I’m Here” at Pasadena High School on April 25, 1975. You can hear the clip below. Eddie Van Halen was just 20 years old at the time, and the youngest member of the band.

Written by guitarist Brian May, “Now I’m Here” was on Queen’s third album, Sheer Heart Attack, released in November 1974. The track was itself issued as a single on January 17, 1975, and was new at the time that Van Halen performed it at this gig.

Though the sound is rough, the recording is a priceless document of Van Halen finding their way as a group. Eddie’s solo work begins at 2:40 and again at 3:53 and bears the strong influence of Cream-era Clapton.

Interestingly, May used tapping—a technique popularized by Eddie Van Halen—on “It’s Late,” from Queen’s album News of the World. The album was released in October 1977, a few months before Van Halen’s self-titled debut, issued February 1978. Describing how he’d come to learn about tapping, May told Guitar Player that he’d been inspired after seeing a guitarist in a Texas bar band use the technique. “I stole it from a guy who said that he stole it from Billy Gibbons in ZZ Top,” May remarked.

Van Halen, for that matter, had already integrated tapping into his repertoire well before May used it, having been inspired, he says, by watching Jimmy Page perform a solo on Led Zeppelin’s “Heartbreaker” in 1971.

“He was doing a pull-off to an open string,” Ed told Guitar World, “and I thought wait a minute, open string ... pull off. I can do that, but what if I use my finger as the nut and move it around? I just kind of took it and ran with it.”

For more great information about Van Halen, check out the December 2015 issue of Guitar World and Van Halen Rising, which you can order at VanHalenStore.com.

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Christopher Scapelliti

Christopher Scapelliti is editor-in-chief of Guitar Player magazine, the world’s longest-running guitar magazine, founded in 1967. In his extensive career, he has authored in-depth interviews with such guitarists as Pete Townshend, Slash, Billy Corgan, Jack White, Elvis Costello and Todd Rundgren, and audio professionals including Beatles engineers Geoff Emerick and Ken Scott. He is the co-author of Guitar Aficionado: The Collections: The Most Famous, Rare, and Valuable Guitars in the World, a founding editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine, and a former editor with Guitar WorldGuitar for the Practicing Musician and Maximum Guitar. Apart from guitars, he maintains a collection of more than 30 vintage analog synthesizers.