Tony Iommi Tells What He Felt While Listening Eddie Van Halen For The First Time

In an interview with Guitar World, Black Sabbat guitarist Tony Iommi opened up about the recently deceased guitar master Eddie Van Halen and shared his initial opinions of his music when he heard of it the first time.

As you may know, the iconic heavy metal band Black Sabbath was formed by Ozzy Osbourne, the guitarist Tony Iommi, drummer Bill Ward, and the bassist Geezer Butler in 1968. With Iommi’s insistence and the support of the other band members, Ozzy Osbourne was fired from Black Sabbath on April 27, 1979, due to excessive substance abuse.

In a recent interview, Tony Iommi looked back to the earlier years of his career and talked about the ‘two really good friends’ he had in the music business. Apparently, Iommi’s two good friends are Queen guitarist Brian May and the late guitar legend Eddie Van Halen. While talking about his friendship with Eddie, Tonny stated that his death was a terrible loss for his fans and family.

Iommi also recalled the tour Van Halen and Black Sabbath conducted together back in 1978. He mentioned that he and Eddie had a great relationship since they spent most of their nights together after the shows during the worldwide tour.

Furthermore, Tony Iommi revealed what he thought about Eddie Van Halen’s guitar playing when he first heard him during the tour. Iommi stated that he was impressed by the various techniques Eddie used. He also added that he had great respect for Eddie’s playing since it was quite obvious that the late legend loved playing guitar and he was brilliant at it.

Here is what Tony Iommi stated about Eddie Van Halen and his music:

“I’ve got two really great friends in the music business – Brian May is one and Eddie Van Halen was the other. Ed was just fantastic, and his death is a terrible loss. I feel so sad for his wife Janie, brother Alex and his son Wolfgang. It’s such a loss for everybody, fans and musicians alike.

He was a fabulously caring human being. Whenever I was in L.A., I’d call him and we’d go out for dinner with our wives, and it was lovely. He was so easy going and we’d just sit and chat about anything.

I met Eddie in ’78 when Van Halen toured with Sabbath. It was the band’s first world tour and we were on the road together for several months. We had such a great relationship. I used to see Eddie most nights after the show either in my room or his room or in the bar or whatever.

We used to just chat all bloody night, and he’s been a really great friend to me ever since. We just talked a lot about music, guitars, and the business, really, because Van Halen was fairly new into the business. And sometimes he’d bring his guitar around to my room and we’d play for a bit.

Iommi continued:

“I first heard him on the tour, and I thought, ‘What?!?!’ His energy and persona stood out immediately. You could see he loved playing and was brilliant at it. It was the first time I’d ever heard his various techniques, and he just got better and better as his time went on. I’ve always had great respect for his playing. Van Halen was a bloody hard act to follow, but we worked as a team.

We were both there to entertain and to enjoy ourselves. I think they learned a lot from us about putting on an arena show – like using drum risers and doing guitar and drum solos.

We stayed in contact in recent years through email or phone. I was going through some of his emails recently and they were really heartwarming. We went through some similar things so we could really relate to each other. For example, a few years ago I told him I was having problems with the cartilage in my thumbs, and Eddie recommended that I go to this guy he was seeing in Germany.

So, I went there, and I had this form of STEM cell treatment like Eddie had. And yeah, it was really good. It’s not well known that Eddie struggled with his arthritis – I’m amazed how well he played, really.

We were also similar in that neither of us went by the book. We both worked on our guitars and amps to make them do things we needed them to do. He liked to pull things apart, rebuild them and make something out of nothing. He created his own guitar world – and what a world it was!”

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