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Pete Townshend and Joe Elliott lead British tributes to Eddie Van Halen

The Who rocker Pete Townshend and Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott have added their tributes to Eddie Van Halen from across the Atlantic.

The Brits have joined the U.S. stars who flocked to social media to pay their respects to the guitar god following his death on Tuesday, with Townshend recalling a chat he had with the Van Halen founder after recommending him to Michael Jackson.

“I was once asked by Michael Jackson to play electric guitar on the Thriller album,” Townshend tells Rolling Stone.

“I said I couldn’t do it but recommended Eddie, who called and we chatted. He was utterly charming, happy about the connection, but told me how much he was enjoying playing keyboards. His smile was just classic. A man in his rightful place, so happy to be doing what he did.

“It’s completely tragic that we have lost him. He was not just an innovative and stylish player with great taste, he was also a laidback virtuoso showman who just blew us all away every time. Every shredder today has lost their Master Teacher and Guide.

“As he got older he became more generous and amusing and self-effacing about his enormous gifts. He shared so many tricks through guitar workshops, online and on TV shows. Immense talent. The Great American Guitar Player. I was hoping he might be President one day.”

Meanwhile, Pour Some Sugar on Me singer Elliott recalled seeing Van Halen in concert at the Sheffield City Hall in 1977.

“Eddie was a big part of that, having essentially reinvented guitar playing just like Jimi Hendrix had done a generation earlier…,” he added. “l had the pleasure of being on the same bill as VAN HALEN 7 years ago when KINGS OF CHAOS were on the same bill at the Stone Music Festival in Australia. I’m happy to say that his playing that night was as good as it’s ever been, he certainly shook things up when he came on the scene… Rest In Peace Eddie.”

Def Leppard bandmate Vivian Campbell also released a tribute statement, which reads: “I distinctly remember the first moment I heard Eddie play. A good friend, also a guitarist, had just bought the first VAN HALEN album and came by my house and told me that I urgently needed to hear this. He wasn’t wrong; it was a moment that redefined everything that I thought was possible about playing the guitar.

“The goalposts had just been moved. I stayed up all that night trying to learn from Eddie. Many, many decades later, and I’m still learning from Eddie.”

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