ANTHRAX drummer Charlie Benante has reflected on the passing of Eddie Van Halen, calling him "one of the greatest" guitar players of all time. The legendary VAN HALEN axeman died on October 6 at the age of 65 after a long battle with cancer.
Benante spoke about his admiration for Van Halen during an appearance on the "Talk Is Jericho" podcast. He said (hear audio below): "This is me talking about one of the greatest, if not the greatest guitar player to ever come out of this world: Eddie Van Halen.
"I'm gonna take it back to the early days of me being a huge KISS, LED ZEPPELIN, [BLACK] SABBATH, QUEEN fan. And then I heard this song from my next-door neighboor, and it was fucking 'Jamie's Cryin''. And I just liked the drum sound — I didn't even notice the guitar until later. And there's a solo in it, but it's not like an Eddie Van Halen complete-assault-on-your-senses solo. And then I looked at the album cover, and I just had to have it. And then 'Eruption' came on, and that was it. I couldn't understand what was going on, but I just knew I loved it. And I got a taste of what fucking new excitement sounds like on record. I mean, so many records have excitement on it, but VAN HALEN, I always said, sounded like there was a fucking party going on with their albums, which I love to this day. Those little things, those little ad-libs, those nuances that they put on their records just made it sound like these guys just came in the studio, they took the party to the studio and hit 'record,' and there's a song. And that's the way I always felt about that band.
"The first time I saw 'em, my neighbor Nick, his mom took us. She drove us to the Nassau Coliseum [in Uniondale, New York] to see VAN HALEN in 1979," he continued. "And I was only at a few concerts throughout those years, 'cause I was still young. And this was one of the first ones. She dropped us off, we went and had a fucking ball. When they came on, it was just a different level, a different type of excitement for me at shows. There was just so much energy coming off that stage. And just seeing them in person and seeing Eddie do these solos and these jumps — it was just amazing. And Alex [Van Halen] hit his fucking gong on fire. I just couldn't get enough of them. And I never missed them every year after that. So they definitely have a place for me.
"When I think of VAN HALEN, I think of my childhood and just experiencing, like I said, excitement," Benante added. "Every time I saw them, the hair on my arms would stand up, because something would happen that would make me go, 'Woah! Right there.' That's something that I'm gonna take with me forever. And that's what Eddie Van Halen meant to me."
Eddie died at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California. His wife, Janie, was by his side, along with his son Wolfgang, and Alex, Eddie's brother and VAN HALEN drummer.
The iconic VAN HALEN axeman died from complications due to cancer, his son confirmed.
VAN HALEN was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2007.
Rolling Stone magazine ranked Eddie Van Halen No. 8 in its list of the 100 greatest guitarists.