David Lee Roth Discloses That ‘Eddie Van Halen Was An Eric Clapton Acolyte’
David Lee Roth recently discussed the disciplines of kendo and kenjitsu, how modern warriors now had guitars rather than swords, and why Eddie Van Halen was a disciple of Eric Clapton on the most recent episode of his YouTube podcast, The Roth Show.
Dave had been an avid practitioner of the Japanese disciplines of kendo and kenjitsu, noting that the ultimate compliment he could get was to become the mirror image of his master, who also imitated and taught the legacy of his own masters. The rocker then pointed out how every disciple carried on their master’s teachings until they established independence.
Roth continued by detailing how modern weapons heroes carried had evolved into guitars, leaving swords as a thing of the past. Warriors were now named ‘guitar heroes,’ and Eddie Van Halen was surely one of them. The rocker then called his late bandmate a mirror image of Eric Clapton as he recalled their early days while composing their future hits.
He shared how Eddie could barely afford anything while starting his career as an aspiring guitarist and how he would look up to Clapton while mastering the six-stringed instrument. The late rocker even had a poster of Eric in the small room where he and Roth practiced and wrote their tracks. So, without a doubt, Van Halen was a disciple of the British guitarist, who also had masters of his own.
The singer on practicing kendo and kenjitsu for years, and the greatest compliment a disciple could receive:
“Kendo and kenjitsu, working with a live sword after about fifteen years, one of the ultimate compliments that you’ll get as you begin to approach senior or black belt level, and there’s probably eight degrees of that, and finally, you’ll be considered a mirror image of your teacher.”
David on how Eddie was an avid follower of Clapton and his guitar playing:
“Many of our fiercest warriors today carry a guitar, an electrical one. You know exactly what I’m referring to, and [becoming] the mirror image of our master is a compliment. Eddie Van Halen was an Eric Clapton acolyte. He followed him like a disciple. Eddie barely could afford shoelaces when he was learning to play guitar.
He had one gold top, Les Paul. I used to sit right across from him in his little room, almost knee-to-knee touching. [We] slept on crates with a mattress on it… he would sit on the mattress, and I’d sit on the amp right in front of him on the Marshall stack bottom right in front of him, our knees almost touching…
and writing the songs we became famous for… and there was one poster was Eric Clapton, who is the mirror image of other folks that he was a disciple of who is a mirror image, and [Eddie] started off as a mirror image of Eric Clapton and took it way beyond the curtain of space across the trackless void. My contribution frequently was emotional. I think we could probably summarize it as [starts singing] ‘You got to keep moving, babe.”
So, there’s no doubt that Van Halen admired Clapton’s techniques and styles while mastering the six-stringed instrument and becoming a ‘guitar god’ himself. In kendo and kenjitsu, the ultimate compliment any disciple might get was to become a mirror image of their master, and it was apparent to Roth that Eddie had become the mirror image of Eric, even going on his way and establishing his own style.