Well, I guess it’s George Lynch week here at WoodyTone. Read this again yesterday and remembered that I forgot to note it at the time. Here’s George Lynch on Eddie Van Halen’s influence back in the day, from a Guitar Player interview (and other sources, below) – and remember that the “big three” players that came out of LA were EVH, Randy Rhoads and George.
GP: What was the L.A. scene of the late ’70s like?
George: It was a great, great scene. I was exposed to so many amazing guitar players who were all very different from one another. In addition to Eddie and Randy, bands like A La Carte and Stormer had great guitarists. Another guy who was really good was Rusty Anderson, who plays with Paul McCartney now. He was in a band called Eulogy, and we did a bunch of shows with them when I was in Boyz. The difference between then and now is that back then, nobody was hearing anyone else and copying them. That didn’t start until Eddie came along. Then everybody wanted to be Eddie, just like later everybody wanted to be Yngwie. Before that, every player had his own unique approach and style.
When Van Halen blew up, were the other guitarists jealous or did you think it would translate into a bunch of other bands getting signed?
Both. We were jealous and we were all trying to play catch up. We thought, Oh boy, we better get on board. This guy’s going to change the world. I remember my reaction when I first heard Eddie. I had been hearing about this guy with the weird European name. He’s got a torpedo onstage, the bass player wears clogs, they have bombs onstage, and the guy’s unbelievable. I saw him and it blew my mind. They were still doing covers at the time – Rainbow, Montrose – and their original stuff was as good or better than their cover stuff, which was pretty exceptional. After their show, I went back to our band room and played my guitar until the sun came up. I thought, Man! How can I get that tone? [Yes! Tone, not speed!]
Did you try to copy him?
What I really did was sort of bounce off his stuff rather than emulate it. I’ve done that with a lot of players. Instead of copying them, I react to them. I’ll think, Well, Di Meola does this thing. I can do some alternate picking, so I won’t copy it but I’ll embed that a little bit into my toolbox and do it my own way. I’ve tried to do that with any player who has influenced me: Clapton, Hendrix, Schenker, Eddie, Holdsworth. I couldn’t play any of their stuff note-for-note to save my life, but I can capture the gist of what they’re doing by being exposed to it. I can get the essence….
Here’s George talking about starting out, from this website:
“I had a completely different style. It was really along the Leslie West vein, thick and slow and bluesy, that ’70s British invasion rock vibe. That’s what I listened to, Peter Green, stuff like that. Eddie’s the same way. He started out as a Clapton freak, playing a Bassman and Paul, and he evolved into what he’s famous for now. I sort of went the same trajectory. I got into using different effects and got into the Marshall thing, started tweaking those.
“But I was also heavily influenced by what was happening around me in the late ’70s and early ’80s. I wasn’t immune to that. I wasn’t this huge trendsetter, I was just, you know, listening to Eddie. Jake E. Lee and the guys who were coming up around me were compatriots. We were learning from each other on a daily basis. Warren DeMartini would be in the rehearsal room next to ours using a PQ-3, I had to go get a PQ-3. He’d come over and listen to my rig and tweak a little bit – it was all give and take. We were all sharing ideas. We ended up being almost the same-sounding guitar players actually because of it.”
Last but not least, interesting quotes re: Dokken:
“We were a lesser version of Van Halen, I would say. I think we all had this sense of entitlement, this sense that we were all going to make it. But you had to beat the other guy out. I remember when Ratt got signed. We had some kind of shi**y, f***ed-up deal back in France or something with no money and living in a little hovel, living off of stale pizza…while those guys had just signed with Atlantic. It was like, “Goddamnit! What makes them any better than us?” It just made us more determined to get over the hump.
“But getting signed is not the whole battle. It’s really about what you do after you get signed and who you have behind you and how you manage yourself and the connections you have. Dokken would have never made it without the management we had. We made it despite ourselves, despite our inabilities and a lack of a lot of things (laughs). I really don’t think that Dokken deserved to be a band that was out there, honestly. That’s my absolute, honest opinion. I think that we made it despite ourselves. We had tremendous management: Q-Prime management which managed Metallica, Queensryche, Def Leppard and a half-dozen other amazing bands. They were supremely powerful and we got seven years of major support touring out of it. We were jammed down WEA’s and Elektra/Asylum’s throat. We were jammed at radio. We were created.
“In the end it’s not how good you are or how good your songs are. None of that really matters. The fact that people did pick up on it suggests that we did have something to offer. I don’t think that we would have ever made it on a grassroots level, just on our own accord.
“My band before Dokken, X-citer [was] a very powerful band. Great songs, great chemistry. We had all the elements. That was the band that I loved and felt deserved to make it. I believe that if we would have stuck it out, we would have been okay. I don’t know what kind of okay, but we would have probably been able to make records, which would have been nice.”