Joe Satriani would surely be very high on anyone's dream list of guitarists to pay tribute to Eddie Van Halen's guitar legacy onstage, now he's confirmed he's been in discussion to make that reality with Alex Van Halen and David Lee Roth.
In a new interview with the Rock Of Nations With Dave Kinchen (opens in new tab) show in support of his new solo album The Elephants Of Mars, Satch commented on speculation his name was attached to plans for a tour paying tribute to the late Eddie Van Halen, who passed away in 2020.
"I've been talking with Alex and Dave for about a year about doing something — a tour, something like that — that was gonna be a true tribute to [Eddie Van Halen] and the Van Halen legacy," said Satch, as transcribed by Blabbermouth.
But even for one of the world's most iconic guitar players, the idea of it still daunting.
"For me, it was a terrifying prospect of doing something like that, but I realised that it was something that would be a real labor of love for me," reveals Satriani. "I was just so honoured to take on the challenge."
As with everything in the world of Van Halen, it's a slow and softly-softly approach before anything will be made official, if at all.
"It's very complicated," Satriani added. "And all I can really say about it is that if it does happen, I know we'll make it the greatest thing ever for the fans and we'll all celebrate together not only the great Eddie Van Halen but the legacy that that band created, the amazing amount of music and the goodwill and good vibes they created as a band."
The idea of a tribute tour involving big name musician Van Halen fans alongside former band members was leaked by one-time Metallica bassist Jason Newsted last week. He revealed he'd been approached about being involved, which took Satch and the other musicians by surprise.
"These things are always happening in the music industry, and you're supposed to keep very quiet about it [laughs], because sometimes they don't work out," Satriani said. "There's usually about 10 crazy ideas that float around and musicians are always, like, 'Okay, I won't say anything about this 'cause it may not work out. I don't wanna hurt this person's feelings or disrupt any other business plans.' So, yeah, we were all pretty shocked that Jason wanted to go public with it 'cause we were all sworn to silence. [Laughs]"
From what Satch was willing to reveal in the interview, it sounds like the project is further along than Newsted suggested. The bassist even said the idea had "fizzled" from his perspective. Whatever happens, Satriani is just happy to have connected with Eddie's brother.
"I have to say that just getting to know Alex has been really wonderful," the guitarist added. "He's a great human being, and, obviously, I can't imagine losing a brother that way, so soon. And they were really close; their relationship was really quite unique."
A potential tour could still happen too…
"Like I said before, if it ever does happen, it will be a great honour and a terrifying challenge," Satriani continued. "Eddie, you can't reproduce what he did — you can't. You can learn the notes and you can be taught all the fingerings and get the gear and everything, but there was only one Eddie and he was the epitome of an original genius. But if it does happen, I know that Alex will make sure that it's the right way to do it."
The guitarist also weighed the idea of learning Van Halen songs to his previous solo work and playing with Chickenfoot alongside former Van Halen members Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony.
"… The thought of representing all the eras of Van Halen, that's pretty daunting; that's a lot of stuff," Satriani admitted. "And just from a guitar player's point of view, Eddie progressed remarkably as a player and as an inventor, and those two things, they kind of went together from 'Van Halen I' all the way to the last album. And when you sit down to actually learn it and pull it off, you go, 'Wow! Not only do I need talent but I need [to use specific] gear,' 'cause certain things won't work unless you've got this amp and it's doing that. So that's also another thing."
In the meantime, you can check out our interview (opens in new tab) with Satch talking about his excellent new solo album.