GENE SIMMONS On EDDIE VAN HALEN: No Guitarist Since JIMI HENDRIX Had That Kind Of Impact
Gene Simmons — who first spotted Eddie Van Halen and the VAN HALEN band in 1976 during a performance at Starwood Club in Los Angeles — told the “Jeremy White Podcast” that he was blown away by his introduction to the David Lee Roth-fronted outfit.
“When Eddie came along, nobody played like that,” the KISS bassist/vocalist said (see video below). “And I’m not even talking about the quality of the songs, or Dave‘s completely taking the frontman to the nth level. I mean, at that time, Dave was the king. There was nobody. If Mick Jagger stood next to him, it would be like a sixth-grader. And he really took it all the way. The whole band — the musicianship, the songwriting. But when Edward would get in front of that stage and start tapping and stuff — which I’d never seen before; apparently it had been done by jazz musicians and everything — your jaw drops. Clearly, no one since [Jimi] Hendrix had that kind of impact.”
Simmons added: “The [Van Halen] brothers, Alex and Edward, many people don’t know actually started off playing on each other’s instrument. Originally, Alex was the guitar player; Edward was the drummer. And imagine the talent in that family that they switched and Edward actually was an accomplished keyboard player. The ‘Jump’ keyboards and stuff, that’s Edward.”
Simmons has claimed in several interviews that he once had to talk Eddie out of leaving VAN HALEN and teaming up with KISS. Asked in the April 2014 issue of Guitar World if it was true that Van Halen wanted to join KISS around the time of 1982’s “Creatures Of The Night” album, Simmons said: “That is true. And he was very serious. He was so unhappy about how he and Roth were — or weren’t — getting along. He couldn’t stand him. And drugs were rampant. And so he took me to lunch, to a diner right across the street from the Record Plant. Vinnie Vincent, who was not yet in KISS, tagged along, too. Sneaky guy. And Eddie said, ‘I want to join KISS. I don’t want to fight anymore with Roth. I’m sick and tired of it.’ But I told him, ‘Eddie, there’s not enough room. You need to be in a band where you can direct the music. You’re not going to be happy in KISS.’ I talked him out of it. It didn’t fit.”