Say what you will about Roger Waters, but he’s not afraid of speaking his mind. The former Pink Floyd bassist and vocalist was never exactly shy of expressing his opinions and putting noses out of joint in the process (not least those of his ex-bandmates), but he’s become crankier and more outspoken as the years have gone by, as his controversial proclamations on everything from Israel to the Russian invasion of Ukraine prove.
Compared to that, putting the boot into AC/DC and Van Halen is relatively tame. Even so, there aren’t many people who would throw shade in the direction of two of rock’n’roll’s biggest sacred cows. Yet that’s just what Waters did when he appeared on The Joe Rogan Hour podcast in 2022.
Reflecting on his own musical tastes, Waters told Rogan: “[I’m] not really interested in loud rock ‘n’ roll, which some people are and they love it, but I couldn’t care less about AC/DC or Eddie Van Halen or any of that stuff.
“It’s just, who? I don’t go, ‘Who?’ because obviously I know the name,” he continued. “And I’m sure Eddie’s brilliant and a great guitar player and wonderful. It just doesn’t interest me.”
All that fulminating has evidently affected his memory, because Waters had forgotten that the late Van Halen guitarist actually guested on one of his solo songs 23 years earlier.
Back in 1999, Waters appeared on the soundtrack of Italian arthouse movie La Leggenda del Pianista Sull'Oceano (released in the US as The Legend Of 1900). While the bulk of the soundtrack featured music from revered Italian composer Ennio Morricone, it also included the slow-burning Waters song Lost Boys Calling – his first new music since the Amused To Death album six years earlier.
And what makes this song significant? It features one Eddie Van Halen on guitar (billed as Edward Van Halen in the credits of the movie and on the accompanying soundtrack album). Though Waters’ forgetfulness may be forgiven, considering that Eddie’s tasteful, emotive shading and soloing are a world away from the fretboard fireworks he fired off with his regular band – ironically, he doesn’t sound a million miles away from Waters’ one time Floyd bandmate/antagonist David Gilmour.
Neither man has spoken much about the song, though the link appears to be the album’s producer Patrick Leonard, who worked with Waters on Amused To Death and, like Van Halen, was connected to the Jackson family – he played keyboards on the Jacksons’ 1984 reunion tour, while Eddie was responsible for the iconic solo on Michael Jackson’s 1982 hit Beat It. Leonard was also reportedly onboard to produce the follow-up to 1998’s ill-fated Van Halen III album, and later played keyboards at a rare EVH solo show in 2006, which onlookers described as an “impromptu jam of rock fusion”.
Lost Boys Calling itself has been forgotten by all but the most devoted Waters and Van Halen devotees. And while it’s hardly up there with Comfortably Numb or Ain’t Talkin’ ’Bout Love, it remains a fascinating curiosity in both men’s careers. Even if Roger Waters is unlikely to appreciate being reminded of it.