Eddie Van Halen first saw AC/DC play live on July 23, 1978 when the two bands opened for Aerosmith at the Day On The Green festival in Oakland, California. The Dutch-born guitarist later remembered that he was sitting backstage in Van Halen’s dressing room/trailer when he heard “this rubble-pounding noise from the stage” and he walked out to witness “60,000 people bopping up and down at the same time.”
“I was standing on the side of the stage, going, ‘We have to follow these motherfuckers?’” Van Halen recalled. “They were so fucking powerful.”
For his part, Angus Young was moved to hail Eddie Van Halen as “a guitar wonder”, following his friend’s death on October 6, referring to EVH’s playing as “pure wizardry.”
In a new interview with ultimate-guitar.com, the Australian guitarist also recalls receiving a random call from his Californian counterpart in the dead of night in 1980, with EVH informing him that he considered Young “a bad motherfucker.”
“I was tired, went to sleep, so my wife picked up the phone,” Young recalled, “and she’s talking on the phone so I’m thinking, ‘Must be somebody from home…’ But it was Eddie. She passed the phone to me [and] she says, ‘Eddie is on the phone.’ ‘Eddie the fuck who?!’ [Laughs] And he’s on the phone, going, ‘Hey man, you’re a really bad motherfucker!’ ‘Yeah, but it’s two in the morning…”
The two men finally met face-to-face when their bands were booked to play the Monsters Of Rock festival at Donington Park in 1984, with Van Halen appearing as special guests to headliners AC/DC.
“He was just all charm,” recalls Young, “full of warmth, happy to see me. At first, I was a bit shocked. I got this guy, he’s talking like, ‘You crazy motherfucker!’, he’s hugging me… He was always funny, and the last time he came when we were in L.A. – when we came out to do the [2008’s] Black Ice tour – he actually came down to the show.”
“There he was, the same as ever – a big hug and a big smile. As a person, he was just warm and he was funny.”
AC/DC’s Angus Young and Brian Johnson are featured in the new issue of Classic Rock magazine, where their comeback album Power Up is acclaimed as the best rock album of 2020.