Steve Vai’s Philosophy Over Eddie Van Halen’s Death
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When Roth went solo in 1985, he hired Vai as lead guitarist, which meant he was inevitably compared to Van Halen. “Yeah, one might say that I replaced the guitar behind the voice,” Vai said. “But that's just academics to me. When it comes to the way I felt about Edward and the mourning of his loss ... I'm a fan like everybody else, and I feel the way they do.”
Vai also noted "that everything in this world is coming and going and coming and going and coming and going. And if it doesn't go, it only means you went before it – we just don't know when! So that's something that helps me to get through loss because it’s just going to happen.” He said Van Halen enjoyed a “beautiful, amazing ride." "He had a great run, and it's not like he died at 27. We don't want to see anybody like that – we want to squeeze every note out of them."
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Recalling playing Van Halen songs in Roth’s band, Vai said "it was a complete honor to be able to play those parts. If you're a guitar player and you're a fan of that band, you know that those are some of the coolest guitar parts written in rock ’n’ roll … they're perfect little arrangements. They fall so well on your hands. They'll never sound like Edward, but they're great songs to play on the guitar because they're complete.
“And you become a better player – especially like a position that I was in where I was playing his parts to his fans. I had to pay deep respect to those parts, and in so doing I discovered a really great ride there, because you have to focus. It has to improve your play. So I was really lucky in all that.”