Van Halen were the greatest live rock band of all time, says Pearl Jam’s Stone Gossard

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Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard has nominated Van Halen as the greatest live rock band of all time.

Speaking in the new issue of Classic Rock magazine, Gossard reveals that the death of guitar legend Eddie Van Halen on October 6 hit him hard, and paid tribute to the Californian band’s “totally joyous” live presence.

“I knew Eddie Van Halen had been battling cancer for a long time, so I was shocked, but I wasn’t totally shocked that he had passed away,” Gossard admits. “I don’t think there was a better live music experience [than Van Halen], just in terms of hitting all the marks of bringing people together, totally joyous, groovy, light-hearted, whimsical. Van Halen were the greatest live rock band of all time.”

Previously, as the news of the guitar hero’s passing broke, Gossard told KISW in Seattle, “Van Halen changed the world and that’s true originality right there. Nobody knows how to really play like him.”

Elsewhere in his Classic Rock interview, reflecting on his 2020, Gossard reveals Pearl Jam’s frustration at being forced off the road due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but acknowledges that the virus has impacted other lives in a more severe manner.

“It was hard,” the guitarist says. “We were chomping at the bit, ready to go. I think we had one rehearsal left. But we’re a rich rock band with insurance policies. We’re in a better situation that 99.9% of folks. Anyone who works in the restaurant business or anything to do with public spaces – it’s brutal out there. For us, it’s not the same as if I was 22, and had a band just about to release their first record. I mean, that would be horrible. There could be nothing worse than that. Just trying to restart your momentum. I just don’t know if the world is ever going to be the same.”

The new issue of Classic Rock also features AC/DC, The Struts,  UFO, Metallica and Keith Richards, plus the ultimate guide to the year in rock. It is on sale on December10.

Classic Rock 283

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Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.