Tonechaser – Understanding Edward: My 26-Year Journey with Edward Van Halen

Steve Rosen

Imagine having Edward Van Halen at your house, playing new Van Halen songs or listening to no-vocals cassettes of in-progress albums in EVH’s cigarette-smoke-filled car. How about jamming with the guitar icon? It all happened to veteran music journalist Steve Rosen.

This intensely personal book isn’t an EVH biography, though it started that way. Rosen met the legend-in-waiting at a 1977 gig at L.A.’s Whisky a Go Go and they developed a personal friendship coinciding with a professional relationship. Loaded with guitar stories, EVH brought newly purchased ’58 and ’59 sunburst Les Pauls to Rosen’s house in ’79. Other interviews get into the weeds of Van Halen’s guitars, including his original “Frankenstein” Charvel.

EVH hated interviews, but gave Rosen permission to record their conversations (with some off-the-record moments) and many are transcribed here. Still an opening act in ’78, a young Eddie told Steve, “When we started out with Journey and Montrose, we were brand new and I think our album was only out a week. Now we’re passing Journey on the charts… so they’re freaking out. I think they might be happy to get rid of us!”

This article originally appeared in VG’s June 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.