Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal Recalls How He Felt Listening To Eddie Van Halen’s Guitar Playing For The First Time
Former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal opened up about the time when he first heard late Van Halen guitarist Eddie Van Halen playing the guitar during an interview with Face Culture and revealed that he was the inspiration behind Thal’s courage to feel free and be creative with his guitar playing.
As many of you know, Eddie Van Halen who passed away on October 6, 2020, at the age of 65, due to a stroke after his long battle with cancer, was one of the greatest guitarists in the world and the first person to come in other guitarists mind when they think of the influence on them when it comes to playing the guitar in an innovative way.
During a recent interview, Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal opened up about his musical influences and revealed that when he first heard Eddie Van Halen, especially his iconic tapping technique, Thal felt like he discovered a whole new taste in the guitar and wanted to discover further. That’s when he started to become a super fan of Van Halen as he bought every single album of the band.
Here is what Thal said:
“I had never heard Van Halen before in all the years that they were around until I was 12 and I heard ‘Mean Street.’ And I remember I was at band practice, I was 12 years old up to that point. I was like a little Angus Young, I would just be stomping around and playing. A very kind of rock-blues, like hyper blues. And then at band practice, there was some kid hanging out, and he said, ‘Do you know how to tap?’
I was like, ‘No, what’s that?’ And he showed me and he said, ‘You put the use of your fingertip.’ He said, ‘You ever hear of Eddie Van Halen?’ I was like, ‘No, who’s that?’ And he showed me tapping, and I remember I was doing it backward. And then he played ‘Mean Street,’ that was the first thing I actually heard. And when I heard that sound, I never heard a guitar sound like that, and it was like you suddenly had another flavor that you could taste like you saw another color that you never saw before. That’s what it was.
It was like this whole other dimension to things that opened up that I suddenly saw, and I just felt so hungry for it. I was like, ‘Oh my god, this is the greatest thing I’ve ever ingested!’ And I immediately just started digging in and got all the Van Halen albums.”
Thal also revealed that when he heard ‘Eruption’ which has one of the greatest guitar solos ever thanks to Eddie Van Halen’s incredible tapping technique, he learned the song by only listening and started to read every interview of Eddie in order to dig deeper of his uniqueness. Apparently, Thal’s interest in Eddie Van Halen paved the way for his own freedom when it comes to playing the guitar as he revealed that Eddie was the person behind his own uniqueness as well.
Here is what he said:
“And I got, on a cassette, ‘Eruption,’ the kid made me a copy of ‘Eruption’ on a cassette, so I learned it by ear, just learned the whole thing. And then I opened it up, and flipped the reels, close it back up, so now everything is backward on the tape, and I learned it backward. And I started reading all the Guitar World Magazine interviews he was doing and just it made me want to start tearing apart guitars, and making strange guitars, and getting into different kinds of things, and seeing what is there inside of me that is…
Everybody has something individualized, identifiable about themselves, something that makes them them. So I started really searching, like, ‘Where am I in here? And how do I pull the most of that out?’ And I started doing all kinds of crazy things artistically to my guitars and just hacking them up, and just doing all kinds of things, and started exploring musically too, just writing differently, and getting into that, and getting deeper and deeper into music theory, and starting to screw around with it. So I think what Eddie did for me is that it was almost like I got permission to just run free and dig deep.”
You can see the source right here.