When asked what was his relationship with Eddie Van Halen, Nugent responded: “It’s always a heartbreaker. Us older guys are dropping like flies out there and we will never get past the impact of losing the masterful virtuosity of Eddie Van Halen. I think I would just be redundant to repeat what a sweetheart he was, what a gifted visionary musical genius he was.
“And a lot of people go ahead and say their first tour was with BLACK SABBATH. Well, that’s not true,” he continued. “Their first tour was opening up for me. And it was the whole band. David [Lee Roth] and Michael [Anthony], and Alex [Van Halen] and Eddie were just the definition of killer, uninhibited, irreverent firestorm rock ‘n’ roll.
“And Eddie and I connected immediately because I use the Gibson Byrdland, which is a really unique guitar in the world of rock ‘n’ roll, I’m the only guy, and Eddie, of course, created his own guitars. So we got together the very first soundcheck, and I played through his rig, then I played my Byrdland through his rig, and he played my rig, then he played his Eddie Van Halen guitar through my Fender amps.
“And every time we did any combination thereof, he sounded like Eddie and I sounded like Ted. And we had a great conversation a great relationship. And I gotta tell you, I heard a guy on Howard Stern one time saying how Eddie and I got together and jam, and I was angry because I didn’t know how he did what he did. Why are people so stupid? They were angry that Eddie and I got along great.
“In fact, I think the culmination of his and my relationship — we jammed at the NAMM event a number of times, and we kept in touch over the years, we bumped into each other over every year, we hugged, we reminisced about guitar tones, and exploratory musical adventure, and family, and beautiful girls.
“And then when Eddie got clean and sober, he called me, and he thanked me for keep pushing and hammering how important clean and sober is for a quality of life, and quality of family time, and quality of musical creativity. He called me and expressed how he appreciated that I never let up on pushing for clean and sober in everything I do.
“And we kept in touch over the years,” he added. “Now because he was busy and I’m busy, it’s not like we talked every month or even every year. But he and I were friends. I truly revered and valued not just the friendship but his musical inspiration — he inspired everybody, no matter what instrument you play.
“Eddie Van Halen inspired everybody, much like Jimi Hendrix, much like Les Paul, or Chuck Berry, or Bo Diddley, or Eric Clapton, or Jimmy Page, or Jeff Beck… We had a wonderful relationship, it’s just a tragedy that Howard Stern will let a guy get on his show and lie that Eddie and I had any friction whatsoever. What kind of punk would just pull such a lie out of his ass and then expose it to the public on a major network like that? But the point being is that Uncle Ted just cleared the air. Eddie Van Halen was a great man, I understand he was a great father, a great husband, an incredible musical genius, and an explorer.
“Eddie Van Halen‘s energy, and piss and vinegar, and his musical adventure are recorded. We have it at our disposal forever. You’d never have to go. Even a great welder, a great plumber, a great teacher, a great mother, a great father, a great neighbor, a great generous loving person – they’ll never be gone because their donations to humankind will live on to varying degrees with future generations.
“And Eddie Van Halen‘s gifted work, along with Michael, and Alex, and David, and Sammy [Hagar] — it’s always there for us, isn’t it? So he will always be with us.”
Listen to full interview below.