DWEEZIL ZAPPA Looks Back On Meeting EDDIE VAN HALEN At Age 12 - "It's A Big Part Of My Youth And It Always Reminds Me Of The Excitement Of Playing Guitar"

January 30, 2021, 8 months ago

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DWEEZIL ZAPPA Looks Back On Meeting EDDIE VAN HALEN At Age 12 - "It's A Big Part Of My Youth And It Always Reminds Me Of The Excitement Of Playing Guitar"

In the latest episode of The Collection from Gibson TV, host Mark Agnesi travels to Los Angeles, CA, to check out the incredible guitar collection of Dweezil Zappa. 

Growing up the son of musical icon Frank Zappa, Dweezil began playing guitar as a young child, and by age 12, had released his first single. Dweezil has performed as a solo artist, as well as recreating his father’s music with the project Zappa Plays Zappa. Over his career, Dweezil has amassed a massive collection of odd and obscure guitars, including many of his father’s original instruments, fretless and half-fretted guitars, a microtonal guitar, and a Kramer guitar given to him by Eddie Van Halen during a soundcheck at his middle school talent show. His love of modifying guitars and his quest for new sounds makes Dweezil’s collection anything but ordinary.

Check out the clip below. Dweezil discusses his experiences with Eddie Van Halen beginning at the 41:50 mark.

Dwezil: "Originally, 12 year old me was playing in a talent show at my school. I don't know exactly how this happened but Edward Van Halen came to my soundcheck and I'm playing 'Running With The Devil' with my 12 year old buddies. I'm not only playing one chord wrong, but my guitar's not playing in tune. So Ed drives home, comes back with his guitar, which originally was cream coloured with an orange lightning bolt. He brings that guitar back, puts it on me and he says, 'You're playing it wrong.' He stands behind me, he counts it off with the kids and he does the pick slide, the whole thing. It was the craziest experience. And this is before MTV; you would have never known what rock stars looked like or sounded like unless you met them in this situation. You'd only have pictures in a magazine or what was on the album.

After the show the next day, I called him and thanked him. I said that if you want to come and grab the guitar. Eddie: 'Oh no you can keep that guitar'. So I kept that guitar and I painted it. This was like my homage to the Schwinn bicycle painting of Van Halen-esque guitars. I painted it like this when I was 13."

Following is Dweezil Zappa's tribute to Eddie Van Halen, posted shortly after his death on October 6th, 2020.

"Every so often a guitarist comes along who does something so unexpected, even the guitar itself has no choice but to surrender. Edward Lodewijk Van Halen was such a guitarist and arguably, he inspired more people to play guitar than anyone in history. A perennial rule-breaker with a name mightier than most mythical beasts, he commanded the instrument to perform as a pure extension of his unbridled creativity all while smiling wider than the Grand Canyon. It was as if he space docked himself to the guitar prior to launching into the 'zone' where he was able to effortlessly summon otherworldly riffs.

Music was changed forever when Edward Van Halen was introduced to the world and now it is forever changed by his early departure from our world. To this day, there isn’t a more original guitar intro than 'Mean Streets'. It’s as perplexing now as it was 39 years ago when it forced all of us to ask ourselves, 'How is he doing that?' Which by the way, he had all of us asking the same question since the first VH album, when we all heard 'Eruption'. Because he was such an innovator, we may never stop asking that question.

For those of us old enough to remember living in an analog world where we listened deep and hard and caught all the nuances on every recording because we didn’t have search engines to offer us ubiquitous visual references yet, take a moment to cherish that feeling of being so completely blown away by Edward Van Halen's contributions to music. We lined up at record stores to pay for as much music as we could afford and camped out in the snow, in long lines with other worshipers to buy tickets for concerts we couldn’t imagine missing. We took binoculars with us hoping to catch a fleeting glimpse of Edward Van Halen demonstrating what in the actual fuck he was doing. We couldn't get enough and couldn't wait to see what he would come up with next. He changed our lives.

As athletic as his playing could be it was never flash over substance. He epitomized the fusion of technical precision and musicality. His intense rhythmic bond with his brother Alex fueled their music in a way that can't be accurately described in words but can most definitely be felt emotionally. It was glorious to watch the virtuoso Van Halen brothers doing what they do best and when Wolfgang joined the mix, the DNA trifecta was one of Edward's proudest moments. He loved playing music with them and we should all take a moment to recognize that the Van Halen family loss is deep. If 'Unchained' used to fire you up, it might make you cry your eyes out now.

We are the benefactors of Edward Van Halen's groundbreaking and timeless music, innovations, and design. We are the awestruck bystanders who witnessed a once in lifetime culmination of groove from the soul, harmonic complexity, and wicked tone wrapped up in a childlike grin. Edward Van Halen didn’t play the electric guitar like us, the guitar was filtered through him and his deft guidance. He made it look easy - we know it wasn't. For many, he will always be the king. Long Live The King!"

Read Zappa's tribute to Eddie Van Halen in its entirety here.

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