RON 'BUMBLEFOOT' THAL: Hearing EDDIE VAN HALEN For First Time 'Blew My Mind'

RON 'BUMBLEFOOT' THAL: Hearing EDDIE VAN HALEN For First Time 'Blew My Mind'

During an appearance on the 100th episode of the "Infectious Groove" podcast, former GUNS N' ROSES guitarist Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal discussed one album that had "a huge impact" on his life: VAN HALEN's fourth LP, 1981's "Fair Warning". He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "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."

Thal joined GUNS N' ROSES in 2006 and appeared on 2008's "Chinese Democracy", an effort which contained music that had been written before he came into the group. The disc took 13 years to make and was only a modest seller, moving just around half a million copies.

Thal is currently a member of SONS OF APOLLO, which also features drummer Mike Portnoy, keyboardist Derek Sherinian and bassist Billy Sheehan. SONS OF APOLLO released its second studio album, "MMXX" (pronounced: 20/20), in January 2020 via InsideOut Music/Sony.

Rolling Stone magazine ranked Eddie Van Halen No. 8 in its list of the 100 greatest guitarists.

VAN HALEN was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2007.

A memorial honoring Eddie in his former hometown of Pasadena, California was officially unveiled Monday morning (October 11).


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