Eddie Van Halen on how he discovered tapping watching Led Zep: "I never claimed that I invented it! But I do know how and when I figured out how to do it..."

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Best of 2023: Eddie Van Halen once infamously said “Jimmy Page is an excellent producer. Led Zeppelin and Led Zeppelin II are classics. As a player, he’s very good in the studio. But I never saw him play well live. He’s very sloppy. He plays like he’s got a broken hand and he’s two years old.”


Eddie Van Halen tapping in anger

(Image credit: Lynn Goldsmith / Getty)

Learn Eddie Van Halen-style tapping the easy way

But it turns out that he owes the inspiration for his own innovative technique directly to Page. Speaking at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in 2015, Van Halen revealed “You know, before the internet, nobody could search things and whatever. But you know, lately everybody's going “Oh, Eddie Van Halen didn't invent tapping and hammer-ons and pull-offs, and this and that”. 

“And I never claimed that I did!” insists EVH. “But I do know how and when I figured out how to do it. And on top of that, I never really heard anybody do with it what I did, which is actual pieces of music.

“I'll never forget Alex and I used to go to every concert at the forum in LA, and Led Zeppelin is playing, and Jimmy Page is going like this... He's going [plays guitar]. But he's got his hand up in the air!"

"Basically, I just moved the nut to get this part - here's the nut. But then, instead of using this hand, I use this hand so you can't tell which finger I'm using - this hand or that hand?”

Read much more about EVH’s massive impact: The 10 different ways Eddie Van Halen made guitar great

Will Groves

I'm lucky enough to be MusicRadar's Editor-in-chief while being, by some considerable distance, the least proficient musician on the editorial team. An undeniably ropey but occasionally enthusiastic drummer, I've worked on the world's greatest music making website in one capacity or another since its launch in 2007. I hope you enjoy the site - we do.