Alice In Chain’s mainman Jerry Cantrell says Eddie Van Halen is completely unique and there's nobody else quite like him.
And he reveals touring with the band early in their career proved to be a learning process that gave them valuable experience.
Cantrell tells KLOS 95.5 FM: “As a guitar player, there’s a handful of guys that are the pinnacle, and Eddie’s always been that for me – just completely unique, untouchable. There’s nobody like him.
“We had an opportunity on our first record to tour with Van Halen for six months. I remember the very first show and we were late to the stage. We’re getting ready to go, and I turn around and Eddie’s standing there warming up. I’m, like, ‘Go away – don’t stand that close to me. Don’t listen to how crappy I am.’
“I’ve got Eddie Van Halen standing six feet from me. I was extremely nervous but it was one of the coolest tours and a really big break for us. It got us experience at a big level and they took us under their wing.”
He also reveals Elton John was a huge inspiration when he was younger and says having him guest on the title track of 2009’s Black Gives Way To Blue was especially poignant as it was written for Layne Staley, who died in 2002.
He continues: Elton John’s probably number one for me – I got it when I heard him. I wanted to be a songwriter when I heard how Bernie Torme and he wrote together.
“I was a young kid when I first heard Elton. Even though I didn’t understand a lot of the stuff they were writing about, the fact I could go to a store and buy this piece of plastic, just an inanimate object which had all this life, emotion and feeling and make me feel that.
“We were lucky enough on Black Gives Way To Blue to have him come and play piano on the title track. We went into the studio and he was a little late. I walked into the room and his piano’s in there and my lyrics and charts for my song were on the piano. And you know, that song is for Layne. Seeing that was so heavy.”
As for a follow-up to 2013’s The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here, Cantrell reveals he has no plans to record anything for the foreseeable future. He adds: “I’m not even thinking about it – I’m just thinking about sitting on the couch, playing some golf and swimming in the pool.”