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Slash names the things guitarists overlook when trying to play like Eddie Van Halen

Slash
(Image credit: PYMCA / Getty)

Slash has been discussing the impact of the first Van Halen record, alongside a host of other topics with producer Dave Cobb.

The guitarist was speaking to Cobb – who produced Slash's new record, 4 – on Apple Music’s Southern Accents Radio, when he was asked about Van Halen. 

“When I first heard… the Van Halen debut record, it really fucked me. That was a heavy fucking record,” says Slash.

“That was the moment that the '70s just changed… And as a guitar player, I was just a kid, I was just picking up the guitar at that time. I hadn't even started at that moment. I started like the following year, but when I started getting into guitar playing, everybody was trying to emulate Eddie.”

Slash says that he noticed at the time that those who tried to copy Van Halen’s techniques often missed the point. 

“They were all sort of focusing on the obvious techniques and the fucking finger tapping and the harmonics and the tremolo bar stuff and all these really fucking great techniques that Eddie had,” says Slash. 

“But the way that he did it was such a part of his personality and it was such a part of his melodic sensibility that it had this really sort of musical fluidity that nobody after that really ever came close to, playing that style of guitar playing, and so I always loved Eddie.”

In the same interview, the guitar icon also discussed the album that led directly to him picking up the guitar, explaining he was initially destined for a career as a bassist…

Disraeli Gears was the record that switched me from playing bass to guitar,” says Slash. “Steven Adler, the original drummer for Guns N' Roses, when he and I first met, he already played guitar, and so we were going to start a band so I was going to start to play bass… 

“[I] didn't know what the fuck I was doing so I went into a local music school and I met this guy, Robert [Wolin] was his name and he was the guitar teacher and I sat down with him and he goes, ‘Did you bring a bass with you?’ I said, ‘No, I don't have one.’ 

“He was playing guitar and he put on Sunshine of Your Love and started playing along with that and I was like, ‘That's what I want to do!’ … So Disraeli Gears, aside from being one of the great rock and roll blues records of the era, if not of all time, it also was what made me pick up the guitar in the first place.”

Head over to Apple Music’s Southern Accents Radio to hear Dave Cobb’s full interview with Slash. 

Matt Parker

Matt is a freelance journalist who has spent the last decade interviewing musicians for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk, which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.