Dweezil Zappa: “Eddie Van Halen Was My Roadie”

November 18th, 2015


By Christopher Scapelliti

Imaging Eddie Van Halen not only showing you how to play his songs but also producing your first record and assisting you at your school talent show.

And you’re only 12!

That may sound like a child’s fantasy, but it was a real-life experience for Dweezil Zappa.

Dweezil tells the whole story in the video below, which was shot at one of the Zappa Plays Zappa shows, where Dweezil and his band perform the music of his late father, Frank Zappa. Along with the stories, he plays a spot-on performance of Ed’s “Eruption” solo and covers the Van Halen song “Somebody Get Me a Doctor,” from Van Halen II, with his band.

As video opens, Dweezil explains, “At about 12 years old, I had been playing guitar for about six or seven months, and I got really interested in the music of Van Halen and Randy Rhoads from Ozzy Osbourne. ’Cause at 12, in 1981 or whatever time that was, that was the most popular music of the time.

“And all of the sudden one day after school, the phone rings and it’s some guy saying he’s Eddie Van Halen and he wants to talk to Frank. And I’m like, This is the greatest day of all time!”

Dweezil’s mom, Gail, told him to get on the line to see if it sounds like Eddie, but as Dweezil points out, “that was before MTV and before you could see interviews with your favorite musicians” and know what they sound like.

With no way of knowing whether or not it was Eddie, Dweezil simply assured her mother it was him.

“And 20 minutes later, he’s at our house,” he says. “He’s wearing the Women and Children First jumpsuit, and that is a bona fide superhero costume, I don’t know if you’re aware of it. He might as well have had at the smoke machines following him and the lights and the whole thing. ’Cause that’s all I saw, was like a superhero walk in the house. And I very politely demanded for him to play everything: ‘Eruption,’ the ‘Mean Streets’ intro…all the stuff.”

Dweezil then goes on to tell how after playing guitar for just nine months, he found himself recording “My Mother Is a Space Cadet,” with Eddie and Don Landee producing. The song, a co-write between Dweezil, his sister Moon Unit and Steve Vai, who was then in Frank’s band, was his first single.

That, in turn, led to Ed attending a talent show at Dweezil’s school and helping him out with his band’s soundcheck and performance of “Runnin’ with the Devil.” Eddie not only showed him the right chords but also ran home to provide his own guitar for the show.

“That was full-service Eddie Van Halen,” Dweezil says.

He also reveals a touching tale about his father’s death. Frank Zappa died while fighting cancer in 1993.

Dweezil then plays “Eruption,” after which he and the band are joined by a David Lee Roth impersonator, David Lee Sloth, and they perform “Somebody Get Me a Doctor,” from Van Halen II.

All in all, this is one laugh- and music-filled video. Enjoy.

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