STRYPER frontman Michael Sweet has paid tribute to Eddie Van Halen, saying no musician influenced him as much as the legendary VAN HALEN guitarist did.
Sweet offered his comments on Friday (October 9) — three days after Eddie's death — while he was a guest on "The Logan Sekulow ReProgram", hosted by Logan Sekulow, one of the sons of President Donald Trump's attorney Jay Sekulow.
Sweet said (see video below): "I had many influences throughout my history, starting with Elvis [Presley] and CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL, and moving into a number of other bands — BOSTON, of course — but no band, and no musician, influenced me as much as VAN HALEN and Eddie Van Halen. Something magical happened to me when I heard that VAN HALEN album. And I'm sure many people would say the same thing, but as a musician and a songwriter and [being] in a band, something really happened to inspire me like I'd never been inspired before. And that was due to Eddie Van Halen. It was something that Eddie had, and has, that really took it to a new level for me and made me push myself harder to wanna be better as a guitarist, as a singer, as a writer. And I have so many memories tied to that too. Listening to that VAN HALEN album with my convertible Cougar XR7 1973, top down, stereo speakers in the back, cranking 'Van Halen I', just roaring through neighborhoods. And I'm sure many neighbors called the cops on me, but I was gone by that point in time.
"Although I didn't know Eddie — I met Eddie a few times, and my wife, Kyle, at the time, God rest her soul, she worked for VAN HALEN as a makeup artist for a period of time, I got to kind of hang out behind the scenes, so to speak," Sweet continued. "And I tell you, man, even though I didn't know him that well personally, if really at all, it feels to me like I lost a family member. I mean, it hurt deep. And when I got the news of his passing, man, I just wanted to go in a room and close the door and stay there for a long while. And, man, it still hurts. It's terrible."
A year and a half ago, Sweet was asked by the "Cobras & Fire" podcast which era of VAN HALEN was his favorite. He responded: "I love early VAN HALEN — everything with [singer David] Lee Roth… My opinion is that the early VAN HALEN with Roth was the better VAN HALEN. And the reason why I say that is because of the energy. There was some kind of a fire lit under all of them, especially on those first three albums and tours, that was undeniable. Yeah, Sammy's [Hagar] awesome, he's a legend, he's amazing, they sounded great, they had hits with Sammy and sold a ton of albums — not to take any of that away, but, man, I miss the old VAN HALEN."
Asked if he liked VAN HALEN's comeback album, 2012's "A Different Kind Of Truth", which was largely based on the band's 1970s demos, Sweet said: "Not really. I liked portions of it, and I respected the fact, okay, we're getting something rather than nothing. But I just felt like it was somewhat thrown together. It was old songs redone. Yeah, people hadn't heard a lot of the material, and I get that — and that's all great. We've done that with certain songs. But it still didn't have that fire to it that I'm referring to."
Eddie died at the age of 65 at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California. His wife, Janie, was by his side, along with his son, Wolfgang, and Alex, Eddie's brother and VAN HALEN drummer.
The iconic VAN HALEN axeman passed away from complications due to cancer, his son confirmed.
Rolling Stone magazine ranked Eddie Van Halen No. 8 in its list of the 100 greatest guitarists.