Steve Vai Admits Playing Eddie Van Halen Parts Is A Joy: “They’re Perfectly Orchestrated”

Steve Vai Admits Playing Eddie Van Halen Parts Is A Joy: "They’re Perfectly Orchestrated"

The guitar master Steve Vai has paid his tribute to the late Van Halen guitarist Eddie Van Halen, admitting that playing Eddie’s parts is a joy because they’re perfectly orchestrated.

Steve Vai is one of the most influencing guitarists in rock history, no doubt. At press time, the Grammy Awards-winner guitarist has released ten solo studio albums in total. Debuting in 1984 with his Flex-Able, Vai released his latest and eleventh studio effort, Inviolate, on on January 28, 2022. 

During his ongoing career, the 61-year-old guitarist performed alongside huge artists such as Whitesnake, Ozzy Osbourne, Alcatrazz, Frank Zappa, Billy Sheehan, Paul Gilbert, Eric Johnson, and Joe Satriani. One of those great musicians he’s ever played was original Van Halen singer David Lee Roth.

As some of you might know, Steve Vai had performed in David Lee Roth‘s solo band from 1985 to 1989. With the band he formed just after he departed from his band Van Halen, Roth and his solo band had rocked its fans with its unique lineup, including Gregg Bissonette on drums, and Billy Sheehan on drums, except for Roth and Vai. The solo band had done great things throughout its tenure. According to fans, one of those things was playing Van Halen stuff during their live shows.

However, during his new interview with Ultimate Classic Rock, Steve Vai was asked what it was like playing Van Halen songs during his tenure alongside David Lee Roth. According to Vai, they were great to play. He also paid his tribute to the guitar legend Eddie Van Halen and explained why he thought playing his parts was great.

“Well, just how great they were,” Vai said. “As a guitar player, playing Edward’s parts, it’s a joy because they’re perfectly orchestrated. They fall on your hands beautifully. They’re just engineered so beautifully.

“Now, you can learn how to play them, but it’s not going to sound like Edward. You know, it will always sound like you.


“They sounded like me playing Edward’s parts. I did my best to pay respect to them, because they’re great fun to play. It was nice. It was such an incredible opportunity and a joy to play those songs in front of 25,000 people a night.”

Steve Vai Reveals The Most Challenging Eddie Van Halen Part To Play

In the continuation, Steve has revealed what was the most challenging Eddie Van Halen part to play live. Admitting that he learned new things from Eddie‘s playing style, Steve added that Eddie‘s ability to sync to his drummer brother Alex Van Halen was great. He also compared Alex‘s style to Gregg‘s style and said it was a little bit different because he didn’t play with Alex.


“The challenging aspect for me in playing those tracks was also the educational aspect, and that was how Edward quantified his parts,” Vai admits. “They had no sharp edges – this is hard to explain, but they’re well rounded edges.

“His ability to sync to his brother was magical. Finding that groove [was interesting] because his brother didn’t play straight like a drum machine, but the way that they locked was remarkable. That’s something that you can’t really learn by learning where to put your fingers. That’s an internal thing.

“You’d have to be playing with Alex to understand how you would navigate those parts the way Edward did. I played them with Gregg Bissonette, who is a fabulous drummer. He’s a little more straight ahead in the groove. It’s like, Alex flows more; Gregg is locked. So I was playing to Gregg, so that was a bit different.”

Back in June 2020, Steve Vai had recalled his rarely-known jam with Eddie Van Halen. Touching on his admiration for Eddie Van Halen, Vai revealed an interesting story. He had taken the viewers to the time he was working with Frank Zappa and said it happened when Eddie wanted to meet with Zappa.


“Yeah, well, it was kind of interesting,” he recalls. “I went to see Allan Holdsworth at The Roxy and this was right at the peak of the Van Halen craze, and Edward came out on stage because he was a big Holdsworth fan and started jamming and we were all like, ‘Holy shit! There’s Edward!’

“Somehow, I weaseled my way backstage because, at the time, I had pretty much just arrived in LA; I was working with Frank, but I wasn’t known by anybody.

“I had an opportunity to talk with Edward backstage at The Roxy and I told him I worked with Frank, and he was a fan, so I told him if he ever wanted to meet Frank to let me know and I gave him my number.

“I thought, ‘Edward Van Halen isn’t going to call me,’ and I went out the next day and came home and my roommate says, ‘Edward Van Halen called and wanted to meet Frank so I gave him Frank’s phone number,’ and I was like, ‘Oh no! You can’t be giving out Frank Zappa’s phone number!’

“The moment he says that – the phone rings and it’s Frank, and he says, ‘Hey sport…’ I go, ‘What’s up Frank?’ He says, ‘Come on up, Eddie Van Halen is here.’ So I hung up the phone and went over to his house – Edward was there and it was fantastic.

“Oddly enough, he lived like a mile away from Frank and while we were there, Edward ran out, ran home, and came back with the new Van Halen record – I think it was ‘Diver Down.’

“So we listened to it and, of course, at Frank’s studio there are just tons of instruments, so Edward started playing and then Frank started playing and then I started playing. It wasn’t a song, it was just jamming. It was a lot of fun, it went on for a while.”


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