“An innovator”: Angus Young on the closest guitarist to Jimi Hendrix

Meta Description: Explore Eddie Van Halen’s guitar innovation and his impact on rock music. Discover how his inventive style earned him comparisons to Jimi Hendrix and influenced countless musicians.


Technical proficiency is crucial for any musician, but it’s not the main reason we listen to music. With AC/DC, Angus Young has utilized a simple yet instantly recognizable formula filled with attitude and energy. Similarly, Jimi Hendrix’s imaginative approach often overshadows his technical prowess. If Hendrix were an athlete, running a four-minute mile would be second nature to him; his challenge would be doing it while juggling.


Few guitarists have mastered technical proficiency to the extent that they can focus solely on innovation. According to Young, one guitarist who matches Hendrix in this regard is Eddie Van Halen. “Eddie [Van Halen] is an innovator,” Young told Neil Zlozower. “When I grew up, we had great players like Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, and Jeff Beck. But when Jimi Hendrix came along, he changed the game. I’d put Eddie in that category of being an innovator like Hendrix.”


Eddie Van Halen’s Guitar Innovation: A Game-Changer

Much like Hendrix’s psychedelic revolution, Eddie Van Halen’s guitar innovation captivated the music world. His mastery of hammer-ons and fast tapping techniques inspired a generation of guitarists. “He changed the game for his style of playing,” Young noted. “When Eddie came along, he spawned so many imitators.” However, none of these copycats matched Van Halen’s unique blend of technical skill and creative vision.


Young continued, “Like Hendrix, people started buying the same guitars and trying to play his licks. Eddie turned the rule book upside down with his experimental approach. He also crosses into that avant-garde territory, which puts him in the same category as Hendrix.” Both guitarists borrowed elements from neo-classical music, showcasing their avant-garde kinship.


A Memorable Encounter and Lasting Influence

Young first saw Van Halen perform live at the Day on the Green festival in 1978, alongside Aerosmith, Foreigner, and Pat Travers. Eddie Van Halen’s performance left a lasting impression on Young. The admiration was mutual. “I was shocked to hear he liked my playing because I’ve never rated myself as a guitarist,” Young admitted.


After that concert, Young became a devoted fan of Eddie Van Halen and his band. “‘Eruption’ is a favorite track,” he said. “It has everything characteristic of Eddie’s playing—there’s a bit of everything. When Jimi Hendrix came along, it was like, ‘Where did this guy come from?’ I think that was the same feeling with Eddie. Every guitarist I met said, ‘You’ve gotta hear this guy!’”

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