Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong Says Meeting Eddie Van Halen ‘Was a Heavy Experience’
Hours after busking in a New York City subway station, Green Day found themselves up early hanging on The Howard Stern Show. As expected, there were many memorable parts in the conversation with Stern, like Billie Joe Armstrong opening up about his sobriety or Tre Cool naming Ringo Starr as the greatest drummer that ever lived.
But one of the more powerful moments came when Armstrong described his first encounter with Eddie Van Halen.
"It was right when Van Halen got back together with David Lee Roth," Armstrong recalled to Stern. "Me and a bunch of friends got on a plane and we went to go see them in Kansas City. We didn't want to do it in California because we knew it was going to be a shit show."
Armstrong explained he and his friends wanted to go to the "heart of where rock fans are," thus the decision to head to Kansas City. He said the show was incredible, but even more unforgettable for him was meeting Van Halen backstage.
"It was kind of an emotional thing," he said. "First, we went back and I met [Wolfgang Van Halen], who's super cool ... [Eddie's] back there, he's got his guitar on, he's plugged in and it's like he's talking to me and shredding at the same time. And I'm just like, 'Oh my God.'"
Billie Joe Armstrong Has Been a Fan of Van Halen For a Long Time
The first concert that Armstrong ever saw was Van Halen in 1984. "I cried," he admitted to Stern.
"It's like his guitar playing came from a different place. He reinvented how to play guitar. But they also wrote great songs, that's the main thing that I took away from Van Halen. The songs were just so fucking great."
Decades later when Armstrong had the chance to finally meet Van Halen in Kansas City, the first thing he noticed was how big the guitar legend's hands were. But as they started talking, the interaction took a significant turn.
"He kind of started crying and he looked at me and put his hand behind my neck and he goes, 'You're the only one that understands me,'" Armstrong said.
"And he just had tears coming down his eyes and I was like — I didn't really know what to say — I was like, 'Man, you have no idea how much you've meant to me as a musician and as a songwriter.' He said, 'People think I'm an alien because of the way I play,' and I'm like, 'It's all about your songs.' And he goes, 'Exactly. Exactly.' It was really this kind of heavy experience."
You can watch the full conversation about Armstrong and Van Halen in the video player below.
Green Day's 14th studio album, Saviors, is set for release on Jan. 19.
In support of the new record, Green Day will embark on a summer tour with Smashing Pumpkins and, as they revealed on The Howard Stern Show, they plan to perform Dookie and American Idiot in their entireties.
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