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Music

Brian May's favourite memory of Eddie Van Halen

In a recent interview with Classic Rock, the iconic Queen guitarist Brian May was quizzed about his old acquaintance, the late Eddie Van Halen. The two legendary guitarists had worked together in 1983 when May invited Van Halen to join his Star Fleet Project, which also featured drummer Alan Gratzer (REO Speedwagon), bassist Phil Chen (Jeff Beck, Rod Stewart) and keyboardist Fred Mandel (Alice Cooper).

When asked if he had seen Axl Rose since he was invited to play on a track for Guns N’ Roses’ 2008 studio album, Chinese Democracy, May regretfully explained that he has only sent “the occasional message” to the American singer in the past decade.

The Queen guitarist then admitted that he should maintain closer contact with other artists he has befriended over the years. He explained that he tends to avoid it because he is a shy and reclusive person most of the time. May also admitted that he regrets not having kept in touch with the guitarist Eddie Van Halen, who passed away in 2020, aged just 65. He then shared his favourite memory with the Dutch-American guitarist, saying: “I have a lot of favourite memories. But I do remember one time him coming to see us play.”

“We went back to the hotel afterwards. He’d brought a bottle of his favourite drink with him, which I think was Southern Comfort.” 

“Anyway, he’s knocking it back. So I started knocking it back, and I completely lost it. The next thing I remember, I was on the floor in the bathroom, having fallen down and cracked my head on the wash basin. I don’t even remember going into the bathroom. It’s one of the few times in my life where I’ve gotten out of control,” May said.

Despite losing touch with Van Halen following the completion of the Star Fleet Project album, he always remained in the fond memories of the Queen guitarist. After Van Halen’s death from cancer in 2020, May took to social media to share his sorrow. 

“Completely gutted to hear the sad news,” May wrote. “This wonderful man was way too young to be taken. What a talent – what a legacy – probably the most original and dazzling rock guitarist in History. I think of him as a boy – an innocent prodigy – always full of joy, always modest. And those truly magical fingers opened a door to a new kind of playing. I treasure the moments we shared. His passing leaves a giant hole in my heart. RIP Ed Van Halen.”

Listen to Brian May and Eddie Van Halen collaborate on ‘Bluesbreaker’ from Star Fleet Project below.