Joe Satriani discusses the “terrifying” prospect of playing Eddie Van Halen's guitar parts for a potential tribute tour

Joe Satriani playing live
(Image credit: Scott Dudelson/Getty Images)

Last month, former Metallica bass guitar player Jason Newsted sparked a chain reaction after he unexpectedly revealed he had been in talks with Alex Van Halen and Joe Satriani for a proposed Van Halen tour.

After the news broke, Satch quickly came out to confirm discussions around a proposed Van Halen tribute tour had indeed taken place, but the idea had subsequently been “shelved”.

Now, the shred legend has shed even more light on the indefinitely postponed project, and has spoken out about the “terrifying” prospect playing Van Halen’s electric guitar parts, while identifying one of Eddie's biggest talents.

“I was contacted by Alex Van Halen and Dave [Lee Roth],” Satriani told VW Music, “and had some conversations a little less than a year ago about putting together a full tour to celebrate Eddie and the Van Halen legacy. And yeah, it's terrifying.” 

He continued, “I mean, I literally heard myself saying, 'Yes,' and then the other part of my brain said, 'Did you just say yes? Are you nuts?' I think I remember telling them that any sane guitar player would just turn around and start running away as fast as possible because you can't measure up to Eddie.”

While discussing the daunting task of tackling EVH’s parts, Satch also took the opportunity to wax lyrical about the late guitar legend’s writing and arranging ability, which he deemed to be one of his most important talents.

"I will say this in regards to Eddie,” he observed. “I think that the other biggest thing that people sometimes miss when they bring up Eddie Van Halen is that his writing was really the biggest expression of his talent. When you start to learn the songs, you start to see the genius of the compositions and the arrangements.

“It's all in the writing, you know?” Satriani continued. “That's what makes it so much fun and attractive. I guess that's what attracted me to the gig, just the thought that I could go from playing Atomic Punk to Unchained in one show. It's just so much fun. The songs are just fun to play."

The Ibanez-wielding heavyweight also revealed that news of the tour was never meant to see the light of day, and that everyone involved in the project was “shocked” when Newsted made the revelation.

“We were not supposed to talk about it,” Satch said, “because it may never happen, and obviously, you know, Sammy [Hagar] and Mike [Anthony] were contacted, but I don't really know what's going on behind the scenes there.

“I can't say I know exactly what's going on,” he continued. “I do know that Jason was called at one point, and he was told – like I was – to not talk about it, because it may never happen. And so we were all shocked when he went public because he certainly wasn't supposed to. And it's only caused grief in the family, which is not nice, you know?”

Satch and Newsted aren’t the only ones to have come out and address the proposed plans. Soon after the news broke, David Lee Roth said, “In my mind it will require two of us for every position”, before name-dropping Steve Lukather as a potential partner for Satch.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.