BUMBLEFOOT, MICHAEL STARR, NITA STRAUSS, others pay tribute to EDDIE VAN HALEN on Shiprocked Cruise (video)
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (GUNS N’ ROSES), Michael Starr (STEEL PANTHER), Nita Strauss (ALICE COOPER) and Jason Hook (ex-FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH) are among the musicians who paid tribute to legendary VAN HALEN guitarist Eddie Van Halen by performing a number of VAN HALEN classics with the all-star band THE STOWAWAYS on this year’s ShipRocked cruise, which set sail from Galveston, Texas on January 22 and included stops in Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico before returning on January 27. Fan-filmed video footage of the concert is now available (courtesy of registered YouTube user Justin West).
Watch the footage below.
Last year, Thal discussed VAN HALEN’s fourth LP, 1981’s “Fair Warning” ruring an appearance on the 100th episode of the “Infectious Groove” podcast. He said: “I was 12 years old, and up to this point, I was sort of like an Angus Young (AC/DC) kind of guitar player. I remember I was at a band practice, and there was a kid hanging out there who asked me if I heard VAN HALEN. I hadn’t heard them before, so he played me a recording of the intro to ‘Mean Street’ on the just-released ‘Fair Warning’ album. And just like anybody that heard VAN HALEN for the first time, it blew my mind. I never heard that kind of guitar playing before. Still, to this day, I’ve never heard that kind of guitar playing ever again. That intro was just a sound I had never heard before, and it opened my eyes, my ears, my mind, my spirit, my entire being. It just changed the course of everything and how I looked at playing guitar and making music and the role that guitar has in a song and in music. And from there, I became a different kind of player. I started really experimenting and digging deep to find who I was. It will always be one of my favorite albums. And I am so grateful that I got to be on earth at the same time VAN HALEN was.”
Thal previously spoke about Eddie Van Halen’s influence on his playing in an October 2020 interview with the WDHA radio station. He stated at the time: “I heard ‘Eruption’ and I was just blown away immediately. It changed my life — it really changed my life, that moment, and I remember it vividly. I got a cassette of ‘Eruption’ and I went home and I spent months learning it. Just little by little and just hearing a couple of notes on a cassette, I would find ‘em on the guitar, and a few more, and a few more, until I had the whole thing. Then I opened up the cassette, I unscrewed the four little screws on it, and I opened it up and I flipped the reel the other direction and I put it back together, so now everything was backwards, and then I learned it backwards.”
He continued: “I had a cover band when I was 13 years old called PARADOX. And we played — half the set was RUSH and the other half was a bunch of VAN HALEN. I was the hugest VAN HALEN fan. I subscribed to Guitar World magazine and would read every Eddie Van Halen interview. And I started innovating — I started taking apart my guitar, then doing all the tricks that he was doing, like dipping your pickups in wax to change the amount of feedback, and all kinds of crazy stuff. And that’s what made me start to really experiment and dig deep and try and find my own voice. Because nobody had as much of a personality and identity and unique spirit in their playing that they put out as he did as a guitar player. You can argue that, sure, but if you think about it, everything that he brought to the table — the guitar tone, the way he used a Variac to change the voltage and bring a different sound out of a Marshall amp and he created this new kind of tone that was called the ‘brown sound.’ And just the originality of his style — the way he played, the way he phrased everything, just what his fingers did and all the tapping that he did, like the big ending of ‘Eruption’ and then things like the intro to ‘Little Guitars’, quickly picking one string and hitting on notes on another string, like there were two people playing one guitar. There was so many things that he did. And also, the guitar’s role in a song was completely different. It used to be, ‘Okay, here’s your rhythm track, and you overdub the leads.’ But he made it this live personality of just this ripping high-energy entity in a song. And on albums too — he changed the way a guitar’s role was on an album, where you would have breaks in between songs with little unique guitar parts and his long guitar intros and things that you just did not hear on rock albums — at least not like that. He absolutely was the number one game changer. And from that point on, after he was on the radar, everything changed.”
Starr, who fronted ATOMIC PUNKS in the 1990s and early 2000s under the stage name David Lee Ralph, spoke about Eddie Van Halen’s influence in an interview with Rock Titan TV. He said: “You don’t realize how rooted in VAN HALEN one is until one heavy metal hero departs the world, and for me, that’s what it’s been like. I didn’t even know what to post or say or do.
“I didn’t realize how much Eddie was a part of my life — inspiration, music-wise. That band was everything for me. And I’m sure it’s the same for a lot of people. I always wanted to David Lee Roth. I always wanted to be Eddie. I can’t play guitar that good, but… And thankfully, I got to meet Dave several times, and I also got to meet Eddie a couple of times before he passed away. And I’m grateful. I only met him briefly, like, ‘Hey, what’s up?’ I met him at a place called Staples, back before Gary Cherone joined VAN HALEN. It was him and his son Wolfie in the checkout. I’m, like, ‘Hey, Eddie. I’m a big fan.’ He’s, like, ‘I know your band. ATOMIC PUNKS. You guys are pretty good.’ And I was, like, ‘Holy shit! Eddie Van Halen knows our tribute band.’ That was a huge deal. Then I went to VAN HALEN’s dress rehearsal when they first rejoined with Wolfie at the Forum in Los Angeles. And I was walking in front of the stage, and I saw Eddie walk up, and I just walked to the stage and shook his hand and said hi, and that was the end of it. So, to me, I look at Eddie as this just complete rock god.
“VAN HALEN was everything for me,” Starr, whose real name is Ralph Saenz, repeated. “I love SCORPIONS. I love MÖTLEY CRÜE, DEEP PURPLE, CHEAP TRICK, RATT, BON JOVI, WHITE LION… I love all that stuff, but to me, it all started with VAN HALEN. Everyone tried to copy Dave and Eddie.”
Eddie Van Halen died in October 2020 after a years-long battle with cancer. He was 65 years old.