Eddie Van Halen is a weird motherfucker! Van Halen are about to go on another one of their reunion tours with original singer David Lee Roth, and they’re doing it even though Eddie Van Halen and Diamond Dave don’t particularly like each other, even though Eddie has enough money to never do anything like this ever again, and even though he doesn’t especially like touring. He’s heading out, to hear him tell it, because he considers it to be his duty on some level. That’s weird! And thanks to a new Billboard cover story by Chuck Klosterman, we know many other weird things about Eddie and about Van Halen in general. Some of them are below.
- Eddie Van Halen never, ever listens to music. He doesn’t ever listen to Van Halen’s opening acts. He hasn’t bought an album since 1986. (It was Peter Gabriel’s So.) He is entirely unfamiliar with Metallica and Guns N’ Roses and Radiohead. He’s unfamiliar with Pantera, even though he spoke at Dimebag Darrell’s funeral and put one of his iconic guitars in Dimebag’s casket. He doesn’t even listen to the radio when he drives because “I prefer the sound of the motor.” He says, “I couldn’t make a contemporary record if I wanted to, because I don’t know what contemporary music sounds like.”
- Eddie Van Halen vapes constantly.
- Eddie Van Halen had part of his tongue cut out because of cancer. But even though he was a longtime smoker, he has this idea that the cigarettes aren’t what gave him the cancer: “I used metal picks — they’re brass and copper — which I always held in my mouth, in the exact place where I got the tongue cancer. Plus, I basically live in a recording studio that’s filled with electromagnetic energy. So that’s one theory. I mean, I was smoking and doing a lot of drugs and a lot of everything. But at the same time, my lungs are totally clear. This is just my own theory, but the doctors say it’s possible.”
- Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth are not friends: “He does not want to be my friend. How can I put this: Roth’s perception of himself is different than who he is in reality. We’re not in our 20s anymore. We’re in our 60s. Act like you’re 60. I stopped coloring my hair, because I know I’m not going to be young again.” He also implies that Van Halen might not record another album because “one of us likes dance music.” That “one of us” is presumably Dave, and suddenly I am very curious to hear what would happen if he made a record with, like, Kaskade.
- Eddie Van Halen used to write riffs by holing up in hotel rooms on tour while the rest of his band was out partying. He’d drink a lot and snort a lot of coke and noodle into a tape recorder: “Alcohol and cocaine were private things to me. I would use them for work. The blow keeps you awake and the alcohol lowers your inhibitions. I’m sure there were musical things I would not have attempted were I not in that mental state.”
- Eddie Van Halen never got paid for playing the guitar solo on Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” even though songwriting royalties alone probably could’ve netted him a small fortune: “It was 20 minutes of my life. I didn’t want anything for doing that.”
There is even more weirdness in this story, and you should really read the whole thing here.