When I was in 7th grade at Lakeridge Junior High in Orem Utah I took a music class and discovered the Ukulele. I loved the feel of the strings under my fingers and the sensation of the vibrations traveling through my fingers as I played. That was where my love for touching strings took root. A year later in 1978 I was hanging out with my older buddy Troy Smith when he pulls out this new album he had just picked up. It was Van Halen’s first album…
To put it mildly I was blown completely out of my socks. The sound of the guitar on Eruption and the frantic high speed guitar playing overwhelmed my 13 year old noodle. At the time I was close friends with a kid named Jak Knudsen and his older brother Barry had a Gretsch hollow body guitar which he would sometimes let me play. I fell in love with the instrument. And Jak? Well he became famous along with Barry and their other brothers, and they really are awesome. Check out Six Real Brothers. Jak is the one with no hair and sunglasses.
For various reasons I didn’t get serious about learning how to play until I was 15 when my Mom bought me my first guitar and my Grandmother Pansy May Young, bought me a Sear’s brand guitar amp. Shortly after that I discovered High Gain Distortion by plugging my guitar into a 2 watt per channel Radio Shack stereo amplifier and then plugging that into the Sears amp. It did lack some clarity to a refined ear but it had every bit of loud an energetic teenage “Guitar Hero” could want (or handle).
I am more of a devoteé of Joe Satriani these days, but Eddie Van Halen will always recieve credit for inspiring me to play. Not everything I do sounds like Van Halen of course, but the sense of power and the intensity that he brought to his performances has influenced every note I have ever played. Thanks Eddie 🙂