Kenny Chesney will never forget performing with his musical hero, Eddie Van Halen. The country music superstar had the opportunity to share the stage with the rock music icon, a memory that means all the more to him now that the Van Halen founder has passed away.
“It was one of those moments that every kid who dreams about rock music dreams of,” Kenny told People. “It was so alive, so in the moment, and both Van Halen brothers [Eddie and Alex] played like it was their show, their fans.”
“They just brought it and every single person onstage was losing their mind,” he continued. “The audience loved it and so did Eddie and [his older brother] Alex … They were so generous with their time.”
It was Eddie who reached out to Kenny, via Eddie’s manager, to see if Kenny wanted to join their talents for one night.
“You can imagine how I felt having [Van Halen band manager] Irving Azoff ask, ‘Is it alright if Eddie Van Halen gives you a call?'” Kenny recalled. “And then looking down a little bit later to see that 818 area code and thinking, ‘That’s Eddie Van Halen.'”
Thankfully, Eddie quickly put the starstruck singer at ease.
“I answered and he sounds just like you’d think, but then he falls into talking to you about music, life, road life and all these things,” Kenny said. “It’s like you’ve always been friends and he knows your life and he understands.”
Kenny will never forget the memorable evening, but he will also never forget the first time he heard Van Halen’s music either.
“I first heard Eddie Van Halen’s guitar coming out of my friend David Farmer’s garage after football practice and it tore my world open,” Kenny remembered. “You never forget the first time you heard it and it sets a bar for life.”
Kenny also spoke out on social media after the news of the rocker’s death was reported.
I am devastated at the news of the passing of my friend Eddie Van Halen. pic.twitter.com/hUyIdKXsdG
— Kenny Chesney (@kennychesney) October 6, 2020
“I am devastated at the news of the passing of my friend Eddie Van Halen,” he wrote. “He was a friend and a hero to anyone who has ever picked up a guitar and had a dream. Eddie and his brother Alex joined us on stage at one of our stadium shows in Los Angeles and it was one of the highlights of my touring life in all my summers on the road.
“I will never forget that night and how happy we both were that our musical paths crossed that night on stage,” he added. “Rest In Peace to the best guitar player that ever lived. We will miss you Eddie Van Halen. Your music will live forever!!”
Eddie was 65 when he passed away on October 6, after a lengthy battle with cancer.