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Baker's Dozen

Trace The Bloodline: Jerry Cantrell Of Alice In Chains' Favourite Albums
Jean Marcel Maillard , June 28th, 2013 11:40

The grunge luminaries' main man picks out the records that put him where he is today


Van Halen - Van Halen
He's a friend of mine and I'm proud to call him that. They gave us one of our first breaks, around 1990 when we were on tour with those guys for about half a year.

When I discovered his music, I think they had already released a couple of records. The first one was in ‘78, and I was in Pennsylvania in ‘79 when Van Halen II came out, but I had never actually heard them, instead I’d heard friends talking about them at school. A couple of my friends had the Van Halen logo written on their folders. I was like: "What's that?" "This band Van Halen man, they're fucking killers, you gotta check 'em out!" So, my Dad let me join the Columbia records and tapes club. It was a total scam. It was like you send a penny then you could pick out, I don’t know, seven or eight records, but then you were hooked for so many records after that, for way past full price. Some of the records I picked for my penny, were Van Halen I and II. I remember, my dad was watching TV in the living room like we did most nights. We had a pretty decent stereo system. So I put the headphones on, and I put on Van Halen I for the first listen. And from the first fucking note... I remember how magical that was. Same thing as with Hendrix. That's why I cite Eddie and Hendrix, ‘cause I think those guys are like brothers, of different eras. It's completely unique. There's nobody before that guy that sounded like that guy. But there were a ton of guys that sounded like him afterwards, or were trying to emulate him.

I tried my tapping technique, but I'm no good at it. That record, for a kid wanting to be a guitarist, that was like an unachievable goal, to be that fucking good and to sound that fucking bad-ass, but it made you wanna try.

Years later, when we went on that tour, we became really good friends. He had his new guitar and amps that he had had made. I remember asking if I could buy one, if he could give me a little discount or something like that. He's like: "Fuck that man, I'll just give it to you!" and, "Look man, I got paid. It's the lamest thing in the world: when you got nothing, nobody will give you anything, when you have everything, everybody just gives you everything for free. So let me just give you some shit." I forgot about that, it was sometime in the middle of the tour... I got home from that tour. I was living with my manager Kelly Curtis and his wife, down in their basement. Kelly greeted me at the door, like: "Welcome home man! How was the tour?" “Oh that was good man!" "Oh that's cool man! And d'you mind getting your shit out of my garage?" I'm like: "What are you talking about?" He's like:"Eddie Van Halen has put so much gear in my garage, I can't even park my car. Get that fucking shit out of there." So it was there, two full stacks and two guitars that he had fucking sent me for free. And I still have one of them. The other was stolen by someone years ago and I never saw it again. I still mourn the loss of that. But I saw him [Van Halen] about a month ago in LA before we left. As a matter of fact, I stole his guitar tech, Craig DeFalco [laughs]!