Alice In Chains co-founder Jerry Cantrell never expected to be a rockstar, but perhaps more so he never expected to become friends with Eddie Van Halen.
Cantrell met Eddie for the first time moments before AIC’s first show in support of Van Halen in the summer of 1991. Eddie, his wife Valerie Bertinelli and their new baby, Wolfgang, had parked themselves on Cantrell’s side of the stage to watch what Cantrell says was actually the worst performance of his career.
Cantrell tells GibsonTV that he had never been more distracted on stage than he was being watched by Eddie Van Halen for the first time. On later dates, he got his game together, and struck up a close friendship with his guitar hero.
As these things go, Cantrell and Eddie talked a lot their craft, including gear and guitars. One day, Cantrell mentioned that he’d love to have one of Eddie’s signature MusicMan guitars. He asked if Eddie could hook him up with a good price.
“He was like, ‘F–k that, dude. I’ll just give you a guitar. Everybody gives me everything for free now when I can totally afford it. When I couldn’t afford it, no one would give me anything. Let me do that for you,'” Cantrell recalled him saying.
But Eddie didn’t just make good on his promise to send the young Cantrell a guitar; he sent him enough gear to build two separate rigs.
Between tours at the time, Cantrell lived in the basement of his manager Kelly Curtis’s house. After the Van Halen tour ended, Cantrell remembers Curtis came out of the house to welcome him back.
“It was a nice sunny day. He’s like, ‘Hey, man, welcome home. Did you have a good tour? Now you can relax. By the way, do you think you can clear your s–t out of my garage? I need to put my car in there.'”
Cantrell didn’t remember storing anything in Curtis’s garage. So the manager clarified.
“‘Eddie Van Halen filled the garage with gear for you. I haven’t been able to park my car in my garage for months,'” Cantrell recalls. “He hits the clicker and [the door] goes up and it’s like a scene from a movie. The whole thing is filled with cardboard boxes.”
Eddie had sent him four amplifier cabinets, two amplifier heads and not one but two guitars.
Cantrell says he still has the guitars almost 30 years later. Though one went missing around 2000, it was recently returned. He called Eddie to tell him the good news.
“He’s like, ‘I’m really happy for you man, but why the f–k doesn’t that ever happen to me? I never get my s–t back. All my stolen stuff stays missing,'” Cantrell recalls Eddie saying. “I’m like, ‘Well, because it’s Eddie Van Halen’s. S–t, dude, I wouldn’t give it back either.'”
Check out Cantrell’s full GibsonTV Icons episode in the player below.
Article: Andrew Magnotta