Jason Becker has released a video showing him meeting Eddie Van Halen in 1996. The summit between the two guitarists was arranged so that Van Halen could make a video raising awareness of ALS, the debilitating condition Becker was diagnosed with in 1990.
“Eddie was such a beautiful person,” says Becker today. “He was incredibly kind to me and my family. Not only was he my biggest influence, he had such a huge heart. He honestly saved my life.”
In the video, Van Halen spends time with Becker and his family, tells stories and discusses the creative process. He even picks up one of Becker’s Kiesel guitars, plugs into a small practice amp, and immediately sounds, well, just like Eddie Van Halen.
In 2016 Becker told Classic Rock about the profound influence Van Halen had had on his life, saying, “One day my dad brought home a cassette tape that he had found in the gutter; it was this album [Van Halen’s debut]. I was excited to hear what the hubbub was about. I instantly fell in love with everything about the music, especially the guitar. I started trying to learn Eruption, like most of us guitar nerds did.
“As time went by, I learned that everything about this band was incredibly special; the tunes, the groove, the feel, the vocals, the effortless swing, the tone, I could go on and on. This album made me grow as a musician as well as a player. It got me started on my journey to playing with Cacophony and then David Lee Roth. Little did I know at the time that I would be a small part of that bands’ story. What a trip.”
By the time of his meeting with Van Halen, Becker had lost the ability to speak, and was not yet using the alphabet-oriented spelling tool with which he still uses to communicate today.
Becker has continued to write music, was the subject of the documentary Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet?, and released his most recent album, Triumphant Hearts, in 2019. It featured gust appearances from Uli Jon Roth, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Joe Bonamassa and many more.