Billy Corgan Recalls 'Religious Experience' Of Bonding With Eddie Van Halen

By Andrew Magnotta @AndrewMagnotta

November 4, 2020

While the Smashing Pumpkins' wall of fuzz might have prompted some to blame '90s alternative music for 'killing' the electric guitar, frontman Billy Corgan saw it completely differently.

Van Halen is often credited with inciting the guitar-boom of the '80s and the over-the-top antics of many bands that followed it, but Eddie Van Halen winced at the suggestion that he was responsible for the "typewriter players" of that decade.

As the face of a movement positioned opposite the 'glam rock' of the '80s, Corgan long felt he and Eddie were birds of a feather who both set out to create new sounds for new generations.

In a recent interview with BBC Radio 6, Corgan recalled seeking an audience with the guitar icon in the mid-'90s.

"I was lucky because around [1996], there was a guitar magazine in America, and I went to them, and I said, 'I'd really like to interview Eddie Van Halen,' and they said, 'Why do you wanna interview Eddie Van Halen?' I said, 'Because I'd really like to introduce him to a generation of alternative guitar players. To me, he really is an alternative guitar player; I know he gets kind of lumped in the other way.'"

Guitar World made the connection and Corgan got to spend a day with Eddie at his 5150 home studio.

"And so they allowed me to basically have a four-hour interview with Eddie at his studio," Corgan continued. "I got to sit two feet away from Eddie and watch him play, and I'm telling you, it was like a religious experience. I mean, the man was so gifted, so kind."

In the GW feature, Corgan admitted that Eddie was the man he "most wanted to be at 17." The interview finds the two discussing Eddie's characteristic "fearlessness" in his music and on his instrument.

Photo: Getty Images

Van HalenBilly CorganSmashing Pumpkins
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