Guitarist Steve Vai spoke candidly about stepping into Eddie Van Halen‘s shoes upon joining David Lee Roth’s mid-’80s solo band and tackling some of his classic guitar lines. Blabbermouth transcribed some of Vai’s chat on CMS Music, in which Vai spoke about his four-year run with Roth recalling, “For me, it was a complete honor to be able to play those parts. If you’re a guitar player and you’re a fan of that band, you know that those are some of the coolest guitar parts written in rock n’ roll, because they’re like perfect little arrangements; they fall so well on your hands. They’ll never sound like Edward, but they’re great songs to play on the guitar ’cause they’re complete.”

He went on to explain, “You become a better player. Especially the position that I was in where I was playing his parts to his fans, so I had to pay deep respect to those parts, and in so doing, I discovered a really great ride there because you have to focus; it has to improve your playing. So I was really lucky in all that.”

Vai spoke lovingly of Eddie Van Halen, who died on October 6th, 2020 at age 65 after years of battling throat cancer: “It was a beautiful, beautiful, amazing ride that he had, and he just delivered so much. And he had a great run. It’s not like he died at 27. And we don’t wanna see anybody like that (go); we wanna squeeze every note out of ’em (laughs).”


  • The original David Lee Roth Band featured Steve Vai on guitar, Billy Sheehan on bass, and Gregg Bissonette on drums.
  • In addition to touring with Roth, Steve Vai was featured on 1986’s Eat ‘Em And Smile and 1988’s Skyscraper, which he co-produced with Roth.

CHECK IT OUT: The David Lee Roth Band on September 26th, 1986 performing “Unchained” live in Detroit: