Simmons opened up about the encounter with the late guitarist after the metal veterans played Long Beach Arena in the 1980s.
“Metallica was coming up in the world,” he told The Dennis Miller Option podcast. “And we all started to hear about this new band and stuff. So I went out to Long Beach Arena, had a limo and bodyguard – all that stupid rock star stuff. And backstage, Edward comes up, ‘Hey, man, what are you doing?’ ‘Checking this band…’ ‘Yeah.’ In fact, I jumped up on stage with the guys and we did ‘Cold Gin’ together.
“At any rate, when we got offstage, I was saying [to Eddie], ‘It’s great seeing you. I hope everybody is OK. I’m gonna jump in my car and go back to L.A.’ He goes, ‘No, man. Come with me. I’ve got my Jeep here, and I’ll drive you back.’ I go, ‘Sure. Sure. Why not?’ So I told the limo driver, ‘You know what? Make your way back. I’m gonna go with this guy.’ Well, be careful what you wish for.”
“So he puts me into this old jalopy thing with no doors,” Simmons continued. “Ever see [the American war comedy-drama television series] M*A*S*H with those helicopters that don’t have doors on them, and they’re flying sideways and you think you’re gonna die? This thing’s got no doors. It’s got seatbelts.
“And Edward’s smoking away like a chimney and driving what I thought was a hundred miles an hour up the 405 [freeway]. And I’m holding on for dear life and trying to pretend that I’m a guy without fear and all that. [I was] scared to death. And I said, ‘Eddie, Eddie, slow down.’ And a cigarette was hanging out of his mouth, and he said, ‘Why?’ I didn’t quite know what to answer.”
Meanwhile, it was recently announced that a memorial to honour Eddie Van Halen is being planned in Pasadena, where Van Halen formed almost 50 years ago.
The guitarist died on October 6 at the age of 65, following a lengthy battle with cancer.