The ShipRocked Cruise completed its 2022 voyage last week, taking to the seas for a no-holds-barred celebration of rock and heavy metal. And what celebration of rock music would be complete without a tribute to one of the greatest guitar players who ever lived, Eddie Van Halen?
The Stowaways – an all-star band with a revolving lineup resident to the ShipRocked Cruise – dedicated their entire set during this year's expedition to the electric guitar great, covering Van Halen classics including Jump, Hot For Teacher, Panama and more.
Nita Strauss, former Five Finger Death Punch guitarist Jason Hook, Steel Panther frontman Michael Starr and Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal were among the musicians who made up this year's Stowaways band.
Other members of the group included Dario Lorina (Black Label Society), Frank Bello (Anthrax) and John Tempesta (The Cult). Check out fan-filmed footage of the set below.
In a Guitar World interview conducted in July last year, Nita Strauss commended how Eddie Van Halen was “innovative in the way he approached everything about the guitar, from technique to tone”.
“I always loved how he made two-handed tapping and whammy tricks feel so seamless in his lines,” she said. “There are so many things that came from him that most guitarists probably don't realize. It's like automatic transmission on a car... These days most people just take it for granted without realizing that somebody had to do it first. And more often than not, that person was Eddie.”
And in an interview with New Jersey's WDHA-FM (opens in new tab) back in 2020, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal waxed lyrical on Eddie Van Halen's enduring influence on his playing.
“I heard Eruption and I was just blown away immediately,” he said. “It changed my life – it really changed my life, that moment, and I remember it vividly. I got a cassette of Eruption and I went home and I spent months learning it. Just little by little and just hearing a couple of notes on a cassette, I would find them on the guitar, and a few more, and a few more, until I had the whole thing.”
He continued: “I was the hugest Van Halen fan. I subscribed to Guitar World magazine and would read every Eddie Van Halen interview. And I started innovating – I started taking apart my guitar, then doing all the tricks that he was doing, [like] dipping your pickups in wax to change the amount of feedback, and all kinds of crazy stuff.
“That's what made me start to really experiment and dig deep and try and find my own voice. Because nobody had as much of a personality and identity and unique spirit in their playing that they put out as he did as a guitar player.”
Another notable highlight of the ShipRocked Cruise came when Lamb of God recruited former Machine Head guitarist Phil Demmel to fill in for Willie Adler, whose absence has not yet been explained.