The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony usually takes place in the spring; however, like so many other plans those were changed after the coronavirus outbreak hit. With ample time to figure out an alternate plan, the Rock Hall curated a virtual celebration to honor the Class of 2020, but something it wasn’t expecting was eulogizing the great Eddie Van Halen. The Van Halen guitarist passed away on Oct. 6 after a decades-long battle with cancer, and Slash, Tom Morello, and Metallica‘s Kirk Hammett paid tribute to the legendary axe man during the ceremony.
“Eddie Van Halen was a tremendously gifted musician,” Slash said. “His style and his sound were completely unique to him. He had a massive impact on guitar playing. I don’t think there’s anybody who’s picked up guitar since 1978 that hasn’t been touched in some way by Eddie Van Halen’s influence.”
“Eddie Van Halen was amazing,” Hammett said. “Not since Jimi Hendrix had there been a guitar player that had so much impact and was so inspiring to me. He just explored the most simplest thing: a harmonic on a string and brought it into this realm of technique that no one even thought was possible. He was from a different planet.”
“Eddie Van Halen was the Mozart of our generation,” Morello said. “He had the kind of talent that maybe comes around once a century. Eddie Van Halen inspired me to practice 20,000 hours to try to get within 100 miles of his inspired mastery of the guitar.”
The class of 2020 includes Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, Notorious B.I.G., Whitney Houston, T. Rex, and the Doobie Brothers. Luke Bryan, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Miley Cyrus, Billy Gibbons, Dave Grohl, Don Henley, Jennifer Hudson, Billy Idol, Iggy Pop, Alicia Keys, Adam Levine, Chris Martin, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Brad Paisley, Bruce Springsteen, St. Vincent, Ringo Starr, Gwen Stefani, Charlize Theron and Nancy Wilson also took part in the ceremony.