Billy Corgan on the time he visited Eddie Van Halen’s studio: “It was like a religious experience”

"The man was so gifted, so kind"

Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan has opened up about the time he saw Eddie Van Halen play at his studio.

Remembering the visit from the late Van Halen guitarist, who died on October 6 at the age of 65, following a lengthy battle with cancer, Corgan said it was like “a religious experience” in a new interview with BBC Radio 6.

Corgan said: “I was lucky because, around 1997, ’98, there was a guitar magazine in America, and I went to them, and I said, ‘I’d really like to interview Eddie Van Halen,’ and they said, ‘Why do you wanna interview Eddie Van Halen?’ I said, ‘Because I’d really like to introduce him to a generation of alternative guitar players. To me, he really is an alternative guitar player; I know he gets kind of lumped in the other way.’

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“And so they allowed me to basically have a four-hour interview with Eddie at his studio. I got to sit two feet away from Eddie and watch him play, and I’m telling you, it was like a religious experience. I mean, the man was so gifted, so kind.”

 

Corgan added: “Towards the end of the interview, I said to him, ‘There’s all those stories about the amp you used on Van Halen I and tada tada da. I said, ‘Do you still have the amp?’ He goes, ‘Oh, yeah.’

“He takes me around the corner, kind of near the dustbin, and he’s, like, ‘There it is.’ I go, ‘What about all the stories that you did all this special modification?’ He goes, ‘Oh, it’s not true at all.’”

Meanwhile, a memorial to honour Eddie is being planned in Pasadena, where he formed the group Van Halen almost 50 years ago.

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Many fans left tributes to Eddie at his childhood home in Pasadena and on a street called Allen Avenue where he and brother Alex scratched their band’s name into the sidewalk when they were teenagers.

The planned memorial was discussed in a meeting last Monday (October 26). As reported on Blabbermouth, an agenda report for the meeting discusses a number of possible proposals for the memorial.

The report said: “Since his passing, Pasadena has received several requests and suggestions from the community to do or name something in Van Halen’s [honour] to [recognise] both his local connection to Pasadena, as well as the impact that his artistry had on music.”

It continued: “Given the band’s connection to Pasadena and the hometown pride expressed by its residents, several requests have been made to name a street, alley or other monument in his [honour].”

Earlier this week (October 30), Tom Morello dedicated ‘Secretariat’, a new song of his EP ‘Comandante’ to Eddie Van Halen.

The instrumental song, which is the centrepiece of the Rage Against The Machine guitarist’s new record, features a typically complex and accomplished guitar playing style in the vein of the late axeman who died earlier this month from cancer. Morello said after his passing that he was “our generation’s Mozart”.

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