EVH Started Using the Bar Because of Blackmore

September 18, 2009 | By | 1 Reply More

Ed live in 1979.

Here we are again, I guess – another episode of “is it true or not?” starring Edward Van Halen. Can you take him at his word, or not? Is 90% of what he said truth or was 90% misdirection? Was it more like 50/50? Who knows.

I’m not in one camp or another. I just like to stick all the info I can find in the hopper and see how it all shakes out – for me. If nothing else, it’s fun!

I’ve been reading about Edward for about 30 years now, but I’ve never heard or read this before. It’s from the April 1979 edition of Record Review Magazine, a defunct early rock magazine.

What follows is from a long interview with Ed on the recording of Van Halen II (more from that interview soon!). At one point the interviewer implies that he hears a Deep Purple influence in Van Halen. Ed says:

“I don’t think we ever did any Deep Purple until we started playing clubs, and then we had to do ‘Smoke on the Water.’ Oh yeah – we did one song by Deep Purple, ‘Highway Star.’ I love that beat because it’s like [Van Halen II’s] ‘Light Up the Sky.’

“I liked [Ritchie Blackmore’s] solo on ‘Bloodsucker’ [In Rock] because that’s when I got hooked on the bar. In Rock was a great album.

“I know all his stuff, but he didn’t influence me as much as people think. The only thing that he got me hooked on was the twang bar because I never really liked the way he played that weird staccato stuff.

And there you have it, from the man himself.

What’s funny is that the bar use on ‘Bloodsucker’ (listen below, starting at 2:14) isn’t even close to what Ed did with it. But he had to start somewhere!

I’ve read a lot of interviews where Ed is asked about where he got the idea to do right-hand hammer-ons (maybe from a guy in California, maybe from a Queen tune, Ed says Jimmy Page, etc.), but I can’t recall one where he gives a specific influence in using a whammy bar.

Early on everyone assumed it was a heavy Hendrix influence, and I swear I’ve read an interview (maybe in the now-defunct The Inside magazine) where someone says he took Ed to a Hendrix movie (Isle of Wight?) to show him what could be done with the whammy bar, and shortly thereafter Ed started messing with it.

But Ed always denied that Hendrix, obviously a fellow guitar prodigy, was a big influence.

Who knows!

Deep Purple, ‘Bloodsucker’ from In Rock

Just for kicks, here’s the “updated” version of Bloodsucker, which I understand was re-recorded by Deep Purple with Steve Morse – in part because so many people at the shows thought it was a new tune! If not obvious, no whammy in this one.

Category: Edward Van Halen, Ritchie Blackmore, Steve Morse

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