Tony Iommi Recalls How He Reacted To Eddie Van Halen For Ripping Black Sabbath Off
Black Sabbath icons Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler talked about their opinions on the very first years of Van Halen and the late guitar legend Eddie Van Halen in an interview for the book, ‘Eruption,’ depicted stories from his life and music career.
As you may recall, the world lost a pioneering musician, Eddie Van Halen, after his long and vicious battle with cancer. His son, Wolfgang, shared the devastating news of his father’s death with a statement he posted on social media platforms. Following Eddie’s passing, his friends and family have been reminiscing their favorite memories of the iconic musician to pay him tribute in the best way possible.
Known as one of Eddie’s closest friends, Black Sabbath star Tony Iommi also opened up about his memories of his dear friend during an interview for the Eddie Van Halen book titled ‘Eruption.’ During his conversatiın with the well-known writer Paul Brannigan, Iommi looked back to the time when Black Sabbath was on tour supporting their eighth studio album, ‘Never Say Die!,’ and Van Halen joined some of the shows as the opening act.
Tony initially mentioned his reaction to hearing Van Halen for the first time and admitted that he thought they were all such great players who had good songs. He stated that Van Halen members watched Black Sabbath playing every night from the side of the stage and pick something from them. However, Iommi said that it became a bit awkward when the real Black Sabbath came on stage after their performance since they would look like they were imitating Van Halen.
Here is what Tony Iommi stated about Eddie Van Halen:
“I didn’t know very much about Van Halen at all. But when I first heard them it was like, ‘Bloody hell!’ They were so energetic, such great players, and they had good songs. We were just like, ‘Wow, blimey, these are really good!’
They watched us almost every night from the side of the stage and obviously they’d pick things up from us, seeing what worked, and what got the crowd going. But it was just a bit awkward when we’d come on stage and it felt like we were just doing what they were doing. One night I said to Eddie, ‘Hey, Eddie, are you gonna play a couple of tracks off our new album tomorrow?’”
Geezer Butler joined the conversation and added that as the tour went on, Van Halen was sorta ripping Black Sabbath off. He stated that Eddie’s guitar solos were getting longer while David Lee Roth was copying everything that Ozzy Osbourne would do. Butler also mentioned that he was the only bass player that had ever used a wah pedal and while on the tour, Michael Anthony started using a wah pedal as well. He said that Black Sabbath looked like they were their own tribute act and Tony had to warn Eddie to ‘behave themselves’ to fix this confusion.
Here’s what Butler said about how Tony had to warn Eddie to stop ripping them off:
“Van Halen went down incredibly well. The only thing that pissed me off was that at the beginning of the tour they seemed like a really raw band, but as the tour went on, they were sorta ripping us off.
Eddie’s guitar solos were getting longer, David Lee Roth was copying everything that Ozzy would do, and the bass player even started using a wah pedal, at a time when I was the only bass player that had ever used a wah pedal. By the time we went on stage, people were like, ‘Oh, I’ve already seen all this.’ It was like we were our own tribute act.
They were all really good blokes, so we weren’t really that bothered about it. But Tony had to have a few words with Eddie, in a ‘behave yourself’ kind of way.”
Later in the interview, Iommi stated that it was quite natural that Eddie and his band were influenced by him and Black Sabbath. He also mentioned how Van Halen icon came up with his own thing and turned into a fabulous guitar player in time. Tony recalled the times when Eddie would come around to his room and they would do a bit of coke and talk all night. The Black Sabbath icon stated that he and Eddie became good friends in time and he really respected him as a player.
Here is how Iommi praised Eddie Van Halen and his guitar playing:
“Eddie had obviously listened to other guitarists growing up, but he’d come up with his own thing and he was just a fabulous guitar player. Most nights he’d come around to my room or I’d go to his room and we’d do a bit of coke and talk all night. He became a really good friend and I really respected him as a player. I’m really glad we had them with us because it led me to make a friend for life.”
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