Why Eddie Van Halen Slammed Jimmy Page And The True Color Of Their Relationship

Why Eddie Van Halen Slammed Jimmy Page And The True Color Of Their Relationship | I Love Classic Rock Videos

via Kar's Guitar Channel / Youtube

Legendary guitarist Eddie Van Halen had a profound and undeniable impact on rock music during the late 70s and 80s. Thanks to his extraordinary technique, Eddie elevated his band Van Halen to become one of the most influential bands of that era.

Numerous musical acts drew inspiration from the band’s unique sound and, in particular, Eddie’s guitar prowess. Despite releasing only 12 studio albums, Van Halen ranks among the best-selling groups of all time, with an estimated 80 million records sold worldwide.

Eddie was a true legend who completely transformed the possibilities of what could be accomplished on a six-string guitar.


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And when you possess such exceptional talent, it’s only natural that you feel comfortable expressing your thoughts about your own music and the work of your fellow musicians, right? And Eddie isn’t one to hold back his thoughts, with him being one of the greatest guitar gods and all.

One target of his criticism was none other than Jimmy Page, a fellow guitar god and legendary guitarist who climbed the top of rock superstardom with Led Zeppelin.

He’s very sloppy. He plays like he’s got a broken hand and he’s two years old,” Eddie said of Jimmy when he saw him once play live. Welp.

The perfectionist Eddie

The oft-quoted line of Eddie in one of his interviews was:

“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. But if you put out a good album and play like a two-year-old live. What’s the purpose?”

In Eddie’s defense, he’s such a perfectionist who even criticizes his own work. For instance, his own reservations about recording one of his most iconic solos, “Eruption”.

When he did record it, he wasn’t entirely satisfied with the outcome, remarking, “I didn’t even play it right, There’s a mistake at the top end of it. To this day, whenever I hear it, I think ‘Man I could have played it better’”.

So it was no surprise the iconic guitarist didn’t shy away from offering critiques beyond his own work. 

Is Jimmy sloppy?

But, is Jimmy a sloppy live guitarist? Some people say yes, and some would argue no.

As a studio musician, Jimmy Page was a legend. He built an extensive career as a sessionist before he decided to establish his own band.

In fact, he was so good and so in demand that he was basically omnipresent in tons of recordings in the 60s. If you needed a reliable sessionist, Page was the man.


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His guitar work is present in Donovan’s “Sunshine Superman”, in some of the songs by The Who and The Kinks, and in Joe Cocker’s “With a Little Help From My Friends”. He even played some rhythm for the orchestral instrumental versions of some of the songs from A Hard Day’s Night’s American release.

So, Eddie was right when he said Page was an “excellent producer”. He was a genius inside the studio, but during live performances, he is, in the simplest of terms, an “emotional” guitarist.

Jimmy is someone who “deals in emotions”

But does that mean he’s sloppy? It is hard to find a straightforward and valid answer. Well, it ain’t easy to discredit a man who stands at the peak of his musicianship.

Still, the answer to the question of him being sloppy depends on one’s perspective. And there’s a really good YouTube video about this exact topic. In a 2022 video, musician and YouTuber Carl Baldassarre shared his insights through an upload he titled “Is Jimmy Page a Sloppy Guitarist?”.

Baldassarre, who was also a composer and educator, claimed to have been “listening to and studying Led Zeppelin and Jimmy Page for 50 years”. That’s quite a credential. 

The answer is both “yes” and “definitely no”

First and foremost, Baldassarre highlights Jimmy Page’s own statements made over the years, in which Page characterizes himself not as a technically flawless player but as someone who primarily channels emotions through his music. 

The musician also draws an intriguing parallel between Page and impressionist artists from the 1880s, who faced criticism from some of their contemporaneous art critics.


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Returning to the central question, Baldassarre asserts that the answer is both “yes” and “definitely no.” This might seem somewhat perplexing due to the inherent ambiguity of the analysis. 

However, it offers a nuanced perspective on this sensitive topic. For a comprehensive understanding of the “Is Jimmy Page a sloppy guitar player?” debate, Carl takes into consideration aspects related to both studio and live performances. 

You can gain further insight by watching his full explanation in the video below, where he explores the factors contributing to both the “yes” and “no” aspects of this complex question.

Jimmy is a major influence on Eddie

Although Van Halen’s debut album hit the shelves in 1978, the band had formed five years earlier in 1973, a mere four years after Led Zeppelin started creating their legend. 

During their early years, before creating their original compositions, Van Halen frequently performed cover songs on the bar circuit, with a significant portion of their setlist consisting of Led Zeppelin tracks, including “Hots On For Nowhere”, “The Rover”, and “Trampled Underfoot”. 

Even after the mid-80s, when Sammy Hagar took over as the band’s vocalist, they continued to include Led Zeppelin classics like “Whole Lotta Love” and “Rock and Roll” in their concert repertoire.

Eddie Van Halen had the privilege of witnessing Led Zeppelin’s live performance in the early 70s in Los Angeles, an experience that left a profound impact on him, especially Jimmy Page’s guitar playing.

It was during this moment that he realized the potential for a different approach to playing the guitar, leading him to develop and refine his innovative tapping technique. This technique ultimately played a pivotal role in establishing him as the unique and exceptional guitarist he would become in later years.

In 1993, Eddie Van Halen was invited to speak at Jimmy Page’s induction into the Rock Walk of Fame. During his speech, Eddie expressed his admiration for the British musician, referring to him as a “legend”. 

“The guy is a f*cking legend, you know. He influenced me and everybody that I know,” Eddie shared during his speech.


Eddie was “the real deal”

When Eddie on October 2020, Jimmy, who had adored his fellow guitar god, was one of those who felt the loss.

“It is with great sadness that I heard the passing of Eddie Van Halen,” Page wrote on Instagram. “He was the real deal: he pioneered a dazzling technique on guitar with taste and panache that I felt always placed him above his imitators.”


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In the post, Page also expressed gratification upon seeing Eddie’s iconic Frankenstein guitar featured at the “Play It Loud” exhibition at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

Jimmy’s own famous Harmony Sovereign acoustic guitar was also displayed at the Met along with other well-known instruments.

Led Zeppelin’s guitar maestro wasn’t the only guitar great who posted their tributes to Van Halen. Pete Townshend of The Who called his good friend every shredder’s “Master Teacher and Guide”. Townshend was instrumental in the inclusion of Eddie’s iconic solo on “Beat It”.

Other well-known guitarists who celebrated Eddie’s greatness were Eagles’ Joe Walsh, Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready, and Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello.