TWISTED SISTER's Jay Jay French has reflected on the passing of Eddie Van Halen, saying he was as important to rock and roll as Chuck Berry and Jimi Hendrix were. The legendary VAN HALEN axeman died on October 6 at the age of 65 after a long battle with cancer.
French spoke about Eddie's influence during an appearance on the Van Halen tribute episode of "80's Glam Metalcast". He said (hear audio below): "[Eddie] resides with the gods — he's right up there. He is, to rock and roll, as important as Chuck Berry was, as important as Jimi Hendrix was. There guys are immortals and they speak a language.
"For 10 years, what Eddie Van Halen did was he created generations, legions of guitar players around the world in that style, and that's what makes him so important. Jimi Hendrix pioneered the sound of a Stratocaster into a Marshall amp with distortion and a whammy bar and found a language nobody heard before. And then Eddie Van Halen came along and took it to another level.
"So when it comes to guitar players who were inspirational, who created dreams, who made more people wanna go out and buy a guitar and play a guitar and emulate who they are, that's who Eddie Van Halen is," Jay Jay added.
"He was a pure artist. He was absolutely a pure, dedicated musician. He didn't wanna get himself involved in the business."
French also recalled his first time seeing VAN HALEN perform, in August 1978 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York, as the opening act for BLACK SABBATH.
"It was spectacular to watch," he said. "They were on fire. I thought they pretty much blew SABBATH off [the stage]. I thought Ozzy [Osbourne] didn't have his best stuff that night, and I thought David Lee Roth was just on fire and spectacular. VAN HALEN, it was a treat to see them."
Although Jay Jay was "shocked" by Eddie's passing, he wasn't exactly surprised. "I know people close enough to the organization that have informed me over the years about his treatment," he explained. "So I can't say that I'm completely stunned that it happened, but it's still in all a tremendous loss."
Eddie had been battling throat cancer and died surrounded by friends and family at a Santa Monica, California hospital, according to TMZ. He is survived by his second wife Janie, brother Alex and son Wolfgang.
VAN HALEN had been inactive since it completed its U.S. tour in October 2015 in Los Angeles, California.