While LL COOL J will forever be linked to Hip-Hop titans like Rick Rubin, the LA Posse, Trackmasters, the Bomb Squad, Marley Marl, and DJ Bobcat, he famously worked with guitar shredder extraordinaire, Eddie Van Halen, on two separate occasions.
Today brings the unfortunate news that Eddie Van Halen passed away at 65. His son, Wolfgang, said in a statement that his father had, “lost his long and arduous battle with cancer.”
Van Halen — both as a guitar virtuoso, and a member of the band that bore his surname — changed rock and roll in many ways. His guitar licks were exotic and revolutionary when they were first absorbed by listeners in 1977. While legends aren't always defined by their commercial success, the band went on to sell more than 56 million albums in the United States alone.
LL COOL J and Eddie Van Halen first collaborated in 2013 for the Queens MC's 13th studio album, Authentic. He fondly recalls these sessions as "creative high points for me."
Upon hearing of his friend's untimely passing, the Rock The Bells Founder and CEO released the following statement:
"I was always blown away by his ability to play the guitar. I thought it was so dope, so I wanted to work with him. I got in touch with him. He came by the studio, we talked, we kicked it. One thing led to another, and we made a couple of songs.
Authentic was one of those projects where I took the gloves off. I did all kinds of crazy music, all kinds of collaborations, and different genres. I remember reading a critic's writing: 'Yo, this guy forgot he's a rapper. I felt like, 'Yo, I didn't forget I was a rapper. I just remembered I'm an artist.' I went after it that way. I think it's some of my coolest and most interesting work. I think those songs that Eddie and I did together are really special. I think that one day, they will rise. They will get the recognition and the admiration that they deserve.
I will always remember his humility, and his willingness to share his talent. That was a beautiful thing. That man came in the studio with me at a time when, creatively, I was trying to get my sea legs and trying to figure out what to do, and how I wanted to do it. It wasn't like I was on the top of the Billboard charts, and he was looking for some kind of hot collaboration. It was just pure artistry, and I respected that about him."
Rock The Bells sends out our thoughts and prayers to the Van Halen family.
*HEADER CREDIT: Eddie Van Halen and LL Cool J attend Amore by Simone I. Smith Collection Debut at Kohl's on October 26, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Maury Phillips/WireImage)