Legendary rocker Eddie Van Halen was honored by some of the biggest names in music during Saturday’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2020 Induction Ceremony. The tribute, which brought out the likes of Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett, Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello, and Guns N' Roses' Slash, came almost a month to the day after Van Halen died at the age of 65 following a years-long battle with throat cancer.
Airing during the ceremony's In Memoriam segment, the tribute to Van Halen Slash remembering the guitarist as "a tremendously gifted musician" whose "style end his sound were completely unique to him." According to Entertainment Tonight, Slash said that Van Halen "had a massive impact on guitar playing," noting that he doesn’t believe "there's anybody who's picked up guitar since 1978 that hasn't been touched in some way by Eddie Van Halen's influence." Slash concluded his salute by stating that he was "gonna miss his playing, and I'm going to miss him as a friend."
"Eddie Van Halen was amazing. Not since Jimi Hendrix had there been a guitar player that had so much impact and was so inspiring to me," Hammett said of the musician. "He just explored the most simplest thing, a harmonic on a string, and brought it into a realm of technique that nobody even thought was possible. He was just like from a different planet."
In his own remarks, Morello called the guitarist "the Mozart of our generation." He added that Van Halen "had the kind of talent that maybe comes around once a century" and recalled how the musician "inspired me to practice 20,000 hours to try to get within a hundred miles of his inspired mastery of the electric guitar."
The tribute to Van Halen ended with his own words, featuring a throwback interview in which he said, "If I hit 80, if I make it that far, I'll still be doing the same thing. I might not be jumping, I might be sitting on a stool, but I'll still be making music!" Along with Van Halen, the In Memoriam segment also honored Little Richard, Bill Withers, Neil Peart, John Prine, Ginger Baker, Ric Ocasek, Dr. John, Kenny Rogers, Charlie Daniels, and several others. The ceremony is available to stream on HBO Max.
Van Halen died on Oct. 6 following a battle with cancer, his son, Wolfgang Van Halen, confirmed at the time. He and his brother Alex had formed the band Van Halen in 1972. The band split and reunited several time, with the current band compromised of him, Alex, Wolfgang, and vocalist David Lee Roth. Van Halen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.