Guitarist extraordinaire Joe Satriani says he “came close” to playing The Homecoming Concert in New York with VAN HALEN’s Alex Van Halen and David Lee Roth
Speaking with New York radio station Q104.3, Satriani discussed being approached by Alex Van Halen and David Lee Roth about playing late guitarist Eddie Van Halen‘s parts for a VAN HALEN tribute set for the August 2021 event. Recalling how the performance almost came about, Joe said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “I get a call out of the blue from Alex Van Halen, who I’d never met until then, and he poses the unimaginable to me, which is to go out with a VAN HALEN tour, playing guitar. And as I’ve told other people, I heard my voice saying, ‘Yeah, I’ll do that,’ before my brain really thought, ‘Don’t say ‘yes.’ That’s an impossible thing to do; you can’t replace Eddie Van Halen. Nobody can.’ But I had such a good conversation with Alex, and just getting to know him on a few phone calls. And he brought Dave into the loop, who I’d met before but I can’t really say I know the man… And we came close to doing that sort of coming out show that New York City was holding [in Central Park] last year,” he said, apparently referring to “We Love NYC: The Homecoming Concert’, which took place in August 2021. “And that would have been frightening, ’cause it was only three weeks away. And I was still listening to the VAN HALEN stuff, but still working on [my latest solo] album. So it wasn’t like we were prepared. There was no bass player. They hadn’t really told me who was gonna play bass. And then there was the whole controversy about who should actually be in the band. And I was on the outside; I’m just some new guy. I was the one saying, ‘Who’s playing bass, by the way?’ And, ‘Is Sammy [Hagar, former VAN HALEN singer] gonna come by?’ And, ‘Did you talk to Mike [Anthony, former VAN HALEN bassist]?’ So, conversations kept going on and on. I met with Alex at one point when I went down to L.A. But I think there’s some internal stuff that needs to get worked out with the family, and then the VAN HALEN band family, which is kind of big. Again, I feel like I’m not close to the top of that queue. And many times I’ve told Alex, ‘Are you sure? Me?’ ‘Cause I don’t perform like Eddie. I’m just a superfan. And I can certainly play the stuff. But Eddie was such an original — just the way he ran around on stage and sang and played. It’s amazing.”
Satriani also reiterated his belief that Wolfgang Van Halen is the more appropriate choice to play Eddie Van Halen‘s parts if any tribute would take place. These comments come three months after Wolfgang performed three VAN HALEN songs — “On Fire”, “Hot For Teacher” and “Panama” at the Taylor Hawkins tribute concerts with Dave Grohl on bass, Josh Freese on drums and THE DARKNESS’s Justin Hawkins on vocals.
“That was beautiful, wasn’t it?” Joe said. “That’s the first thing I thought after. I was, like every other VAN HALEN fan, so relieved to see a very beautiful expression of a son playing his father’s stuff. And after all the weight that must be on Wolf’s shoulders about this whole thing, and he’s had to deal with Dave and everybody else commenting about this kind of stuff. And he just went and settled it right then and there. So I thought to myself, well, he should do it, and maybe just he and his uncle Al should just work this out. And it would be nice if somehow Dave and Sammy could sort of kiss and make up and figure out a way to do it right. I know Sammy quite well and we talk all the time, and he’s always open to move forward and mend fences. So I’m hopeful that maybe he can have a hand in it.”