David Coverdale has remembered Eddie Van Halen as "an absolute monster musician," and suggested that a reunion of VAN HALEN with former frontman Sammy Hagar may have been on the cards before the guitarist's passing. Coverdale made the comments while speaking to Eonmusic about the release of WHITESNAKE's forthcoming "Love Songs" compilation, which is due next month via Rhino.
Regarding how Eddie first came to his attention, David revealed that it was when considering John Sykes for WHITESNAKE in 1983 that he became aware of Van Halen's talents. "I'd only heard of VAN HALEN because once I started to work with the unique talent of John Sykes, I like to do my homework on people, and I thought, 'He's influenced by this American guy Edward Van Halen," Coverdale said. "That's when I first heard those records, and heard this fucking phenomenal guitar playing. The last time I'd heard guitar playing like that was Jimi Hendrix and John McLaughlin and Jeff Beck; this unique scenario."
David went on to recall the last time he saw Eddie, presumably around 1993 or 1994, when he was working with LED ZEPPELIN's Jimmy Page as COVERDALE PAGE. He said: "The last time I saw him, I was sitting in my hotel suite in London with Jimmy. It was like 10 o'clock in the morning, and we were just having a very elegant gentlemen's cup of tea; tea pot and everything. [Laughs] And the door to my suite goes, and Edward just pushes past, and I go, 'Edward, how are you doing?' And he goes, 'All right, great to see you… Ah! Jimmy Page! Jimmy Page!' And, well, first off, he goes to my minibar immediately at 10 o'clock in the morning and takes a fucking Heineken out, and he's at Jimmy's feet, and he picks up my acoustic, and he's, like, 'How did you play this fucking thing?!' [Laughs] You know, it's amazing — I had Eddie Van Halen and Jimmy Page sitting there, and Eddie had a Heineken, and Jimmy and I had a cup of tea!”
Coverdale then revealed that he had been in touch with Sammy Hagar in recent months, and suggested that a reunion between the Red Rocker and VAN HALEN had been a very real possibility. He said: "I'd been aware of Edward's illness for quite some time, and Sammy and I had talked about it, but Sammy still had the energy that he was going to have another opportunity to do the rounds as the singer with VAN HALEN, because all was not well with the camp before. But I don't think Edward could do [it]."
Finally, David summed up Eddie's passing philosophically, saying: "Artists — musicians or painters; musicians, singers — the thing is, they are as alive to me, in my heart, my mind, my soul, my spirit. You know, the music's there. Eddie Van Halen, I just played the early VAN HALEN albums, and it's just amazing stuff — the ultimate, a great American party band."
He concluded: "The sad thing is, you don't get to hug them, but Edward's still alive to me, and I just feel for his family for his physical absence. That's the big sadness. But what a monster, monster musician. An absolute monster."
Check out the full story here, and read the entire interview with David Coverdale, only on Eonmusic, from Friday, October 30.