Among the many musicians to pay tribute to the guitar legend since the news of his passing was announced was Osbourne, who told Rolling Stone about his memories of touring with Van Halen and his great admiration for the late musician’s style of guitar playing.
“The last time I spent any serious time with Eddie was on the last official Black Sabbath tour I did in ’79, when they opened up for us,” Osbourne remembered. “They were such good guys to be around. We had such fun. Every time I ever saw Eddie Van Halen, it was fun.
“I remember seeing Eddie do that finger-tapping thing, and that was the first time I’d ever seen anyone do that. Just when you think nobody can make guitar playing exciting, somebody like that comes out. He was one of them.
“That thing with finger-tapping in the 80s, with the hair bands, everybody was doing that finger tapping. Once you’ve seen the master do it, everyone else comes second. Anybody after Eddie Van Halen was in second, as far as I’m concerned.”
Osbourne added that the “one thing I loved about Eddie was he always had a big grin on his face, and he looked like he was enjoying every second he was up there.”
“Whether it was showbiz bullshit or not — I don’t think it was — he always looked like he was having the best time of his life up there.”
Remembering the late guitarist as “a force to be reckoned with”, he recalled one show they played with Van Halen (the band) in San Antonio where “they went on and blew the roof off. And we had to follow them. I mean, it was such a hard gig for us. To follow Van Halen, you’d go, ‘Oh, fuck. No.’ And after that tour, they took off.”
Osbourne said that he “could sit and watch Eddie Van Halen play guitar all day. He’s so entertaining as a guitar player. He made it look like it was not difficult. He made it look like it was a natural thing. Everybody else was trying to be Eddie Van Halen, but there is only one Eddie Van Halen. I thought he was brilliant. God only knows, what you have to do to get that good.”
Revealing that he “was in shock” at hearing the news of Van Halen’s passing, Osbourne said: “I knew he was battling an illness. I have the same doctor as him. I used to pass messages through her to him, and she would never tell me the condition he was in or whatever. She would say, ‘What do you want to say?’ And I would say, ‘I send my regards.’ So it really was a shock, because he was a good guy. He really was a good man.
“It’s always a sad day when somebody like that dies. It’s like when Michael Jackson died. I didn’t believe it at first. It’s such a fucking loss.”
The likes of Metallica, Billy Idol, Gene Simmons and Brian Wilson have also paid tribute to Eddie Van Halen since his death was confirmed yesterday.