DEEP PURPLE guitarist Steve Morse has reflected on the passing of Eddie Van Halen, calling him " one of the most inventive rhythm players" he has ever heard. The legendary VAN HALEN axeman died on October 6 at the age of 65 after a long battle with cancer.
Speaking to Everyone Loves Guitar, Morse said (see video below): "[Eddie] was a mighty guitarist and a mighty songwriter and one of the most inventive rhythm players I've ever heard.
"I luckily got a chance to work with him for a few days," he continued. "We were both endorsing Music Man, and Albert Lee, of course, also was. And we had a band called BIFF BABY'S ALLSTARS, started by Sterling Ball, and some of his brothers were playing and singing in the band originally. And John Ferraro and Jimmy Cox — just great session musicians. So it was just one of these things where you couldn't go wrong, and the feel was gonna be there. The thing is, can you step up and keep up with them? I always enjoyed doing that gig. At that point, I'd played a number of gigs with them and knew what the deal was. But Eddie came in cold, just, like, 'Sure, I'll do it.' And we were doing country, two-step western swing and rockabilly, and then getting on into a lot of rock sections too, where the solos were pretty much just straight rock and roll, and that's where, of course, Eddie blew the doors off the place when he did that stuff. But all the stuff he wasn't as comfortable with, he was very original and inventive with coming up with ways of following the change… Just using his ear — he had great ears.
"So I just wanted to say a few words about how I got to stand next to him and play for a few days and really experience the breadth of his talent," Steve added. "We had a lot in common. We sat and talked a lot during that time. We were almost exactly the same age and both were having our only sons being born months apart.
"It was kind of surreal and very sad to hear of his death.
"I guess the main thing to remember about Van Halen is what he contributed to the worldwide music vocabulary and some very great songwriting too. And, of course, the soloing.
"Eddie, we're sorry you're gone, and everyone feels very sad about it. But you've gotta be proud of the legacy you've given the world and helped redefine the guitar technique library, as well as written some amazing tunes."
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.