Kiss frontman Gene Simmons recently recalled that he was pretty impressed by hearing Van Halen for the first time. He went on to name one aspect in which he thinks Edward’s solos differ from those of fellow shredder Yngwie Malmsteen.
Gene Simmons opens up on the experience of hearing Van Halen the first time
Over the years, the Kiss bassist has proven to be willing to stand up for up-and-coming talent, and Van Halen would famously find themselves among bands whose early cause got championed by Gene Simmons.
The first time that Gene heard Van Halen came more-or-less by accident, as he explains to Dean Delray in a recent interview. The bassist recalled being invited by Rodney Bingenheimer to check out this promising young guitarist George Lynch and his band The Boyz at the iconic Starwood club in LA (transcribed by Ultimate Guitar):
“So, he called and said, ‘Hey, you want to go see some bands? There’s a group called The Boyz with a good guitar player named George Lynch…’ I said, ‘Sure.’ ‘There are three bands on the bill, and I think they’re the second bill.’ ‘Sure. I’ll go.’ And I was there upstairs because they put all the VIP assholes upstairs so everybody can look and point.”
Gene also recalled being busy signing autographs as the sounds of Edward soloing cut through the commotion. As the bassist now explains, it wasn’t just Edward’s technicality that impressed him, but also how “melodic” the solo was. Comparing Edward’s solos to those of Yngwie Malmsteen, Gene went on:
“And then, all of a sudden, I heard like [mimics EVH soloing] – but symphonic and melodic, not just noise. You can hear the melody and be able to hum it back, instead of Yngwie nonsense. Good luck to him too – good luck to anybody. But nobody walks down the street humming Yngwie solos – versus Van Halen solos. [They] are great solos you can hum. Because he spent time figuring [out] the musicality of it.
“And I just pushed everybody aside and I went to the front, and there was hardly anybody on stage. It was a shirtless guy who looked like Jim Dandy from Black Oak [Arkansas, Southern rock group] doing crazy stuff, and you got a bass player pounding away – really good stuff.
“I can play a little bit; this guy was doing good stuff, great runs, but he’s got to fill up the musicality because the guitar player’s not playing chords… And he’s typing away on the neck. I’ve never heard or saw anything like that.”