Van Halen almost had other name because of Black Sabbath

Eddie Van Halen’s incredible guitar playing has made Van Halen one of the greatest Hard Rock bands of all time and a historical landmark. But Eddie and Alex’s last names were nearly absent from the band.

The guitarist stated to Guitar World in a 2013 interview that he and Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi had initially intended for them to be called “Rat Salad,” taking inspiration from the musical track of the same name from the iconic album “Paranoid” (1970).

When asked by the magazine if they would originally be called Rat Salad, Eddie Van Halen confirmed saying:

“Yeah, that’s right. We played just about every Black Sabbath song. I used to sing lead on every Black Sabbath song we did—things like “Into the Void,” “Paranoid,” and “Lord of This World.” When we toured with Black Sabbath in 1978, they scared the shit out of us. I’ll tell you a funny story that I’ll never forget.”

“I walked up to Tony and began to ask him, “Second song on side two of Master of Reality…” Tony looked at me and went, “What the fuck, mate?” By that time Black Sabbath had several records out, but we had only one album out so I knew where every track on our first record was. A few years later somebody asked me a question in the same way, and I was going, Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me.”

That event with Tony was the first thing that immediately sprang to mind! I found it strange at first that he was unable to recall the contents of his documents, and then I experienced the same thing.

In the same interview, Eddie recalled the experience of being the opening band for Black Sabbath back in 1978:

“To me, Tony is the master of riffs. That’s what I loved. I’m not knocking Ozzy or his singing, but listen to “Into the Void.” That riff is some badass shit. It was beyond surf music and jazz, beyond anything else I had ever heard. It was so f****’ heavy. I put it right up there with [sings the four-note intro to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony]. Listen to the main riff, where he chugs on the low E string. It hits you like a brick wall.”

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