“The weirdest thing is actually VAN HALEN was supporting UFO at the Starwood [club in Los Angeles],” Michael said. “I was 19 years old, I guess. That would have been ’74 or ’75. I heard that some people were saying a phenomenal guitarist was there, but it was five years before they broke out with Van Halen I, which, even though I’m not listening to any music for the last 50 years, sometimes [you would] hear things coming out of speakers everywhere.
“And when I heard Eddie, I went, like, ‘Wow! This is amazing.’ But I didn’t know that he actually was doing the tapping technique. Because I was always wondering how on earth he got such a smooth guitar sound. Everybody was doing tapping later, and trashed Eddie. Just like they did with me — they copied my style; people copied my style; 80 percent of all guitarists in the ’80s — and trashed my style too. But I always come up with something fresh, so I’m always a step ahead anyway.
“But with the tapping that was so extreme, it was, actually, in the end, it appeared to be easy to do for overnight success. So there was thousands of guitarists going to guitar school, learning tapping to be a star in one or two years. Well, that shows that tapping is not all, and actually doesn’t create much emotion.
“But the thing with Eddie Van Halen, he had rhythm and style,” he continued. “And by the way, Rudolf [Schenker, Michael‘s brother and SCORPIONS guitarist] told me that he actually heard something Eddie did earlier, because it looks like Eddie was actually a bit influenced by me.
“There was a melody line or several things that he did that sounded like me, and people were actually saying, ‘Wow! It sounds like Michael Schenker.’ But the thing is he took it — in the next five years — so far forwards that I was blown away by what he did. And his drummer, his brother being a drummer, so it’s in the family gene that his sense of rhythm, his sense of melody, his sense of sound, tone quality, the way he actually entertained was so complete. He’s the best.”
Eddie died on October 6 at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California.
You can listen to full interview below.