Brian May Recalls Eddie Van Halen Admitting He Stole The Tapping Technique


Queen lead guitarist Brian May looked back on the time when he first learned the two-handed tapping technique during a recent interview with Guitar Player and revealed that late Van Halen guitarist Eddie Valen Halen actually copied the tapping after seeing him doing it in songs such as ‘It’s Late’ from 1977’s ‘News of the World.’

There’s no doubt that the famous tapping technique is often mentioned with late Van Halen guitarist Eddie Valen Halen who didn’t invent it, however, brought the method into the spotlight, especially with Van Halen’s 1978 instrumental solo ‘Eruption‘ which was voted number 2 in Guitar Worlds readers poll of the ‘100 Greatest Guitar Solos’ hence popularizing the tapping technique.

While there are many representatives of the tapping technique such as the early proponent of it, Genesis lead guitarist Steve Hackett, Frank Zappa, Mr. Big lead guitarist Paul Gilbert, Stanley Jordan, and many more. There’s another famous guitarist who previously used guitar tapping in his work, however, gone unnoticed throughout all these years. That is Brian May who used the two-handed tapping technique in his music way before ‘Eruption’ spreading it to the whole world.

During a recent interview, the Queen guitarist revealed the time when he first heard a guitar player using the two-handed tapping at a bar in Texas while the band was touring. Apparently, Brian May asked that guitarist how did he learn doing such a beautiful method and it was Billy Gibbons from whom he learned. After discovering how to do it himself, May started to apply the technique into his solos which brought dimension and more layers to the tracks, according to him.

In his own words, Brian May’s statement follows:

“Yeah, I picked it up from… I wish I knew who it was that I saw. I went into a bar in Texas when we were on tour, and I saw this guy playing. And he would be bending strings as we all do, but then he’d put his right hand onto a fret and make this kind of singing sound. And I thought, Oh, that’s a beautiful thing to do; he creates a completely new dimension.

I went up to him after the show and I said, ‘I’m telling you now, I’m going to nick that from you.’ He said, ‘Great, go for it.’ I asked him, ‘How did you figure out how to do that?’ And he told me, ‘I got it from Billy Gibbons.’ Now, I ought to talk to Billy about it, because I can’t put my finger on the piece where Billy did it. But somewhere in the murky past, somebody thought up that technique.”

In addition to this, Brian May was also asked if he ever asked late guitarist Eddie Van Halen about his inspiration when it comes to the tapping technique since it wasn’t him who invented it. According to May’s statement, Eddie Van Halen actually copied the technique, however, turned into the already existing method something more if you ask May.

During the interview with Guitar Player, May stated:

“I did talk to Eddie about it, and he said, ‘Yeah, I copped that.‘ But I think he was already onto it. Strangely enough, though, I recently came across a live recording of Van Halen doing ‘Now I’m Here.’ It’s great. They’re sort of doing us. And I think the blurb that went along with it online said something like, ‘Edward hadn’t developed his style yet.’ But I don’t agree. You listen to what he was doing and he’s already him. He’s already doing his own thing. But he’s doing it on my song, which makes me very happy.”

You can listen to Eddie Van Halen’s guitar solo for ‘Eruption’ below.