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Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong says Eddie Van Halen “started crying” when they met

Green Day‘s Billie Joe Armstrong has told the story of meeting Eddie Van Halen, who “started crying” when they met backstage.

In a new interview with Howard Stern on Wednesday (January 17), Stern noted Armstrong’s love for Van Halen, as they were his first-ever concert. “When I saw Van Halen in ’84, I was 12, and they were my favourite band, and I cried,” Armstrong began. “It’s like his guitar playing came from a different place. He reinvented how to play guitar. But they also wrote great songs, that’s the main thing that I took away from Van Halen. The songs were just so fucking great.”

Then, Armstrong recounted his only meeting with the hard rock legend. “It was right when Van Halen got back together with David Lee Roth,” he recalled. “Me and a bunch of friends got on a plane and we went to go see them in Kansas City. We didn’t want to do it in California because we knew it was going to be a shit show.”

Calling the Kansas City concert “incredible”, Armstrong said his backstage meeting with Eddie was “an emotional thing.” “First we went back and I met Wolfie [Van Halen], who was super cool, and then they were like, ‘Do you want to meet Eddie?’ and I was like, ‘Oh my God!” he said. “And so he’s back there and he’s got his guitar on, he’s plugged in, and it’s like he’s talking to me and shredding at the same time, and I was just like, Oh my God!”

He continued: “I don’t know if anybody really knows this, but the size of his hands are gigantic, and I grabbed his hands and I looked at them, and I was like, ‘Dude your hands are so…’ And he’s like: ‘Oh I got arthritis now and blah blah blah.’ Then this really insane thing happened, where he started crying. He looked at me and he put his hand behind my neck, and he goes: ‘You’re the only one that understands me.’”

Armstrong went on: “He had tears coming down his eyes and I didn’t really know what to say. I was like, ‘Man you have no idea how much you’ve meant to me as a musician and as a songwriter.’ He’s like, ‘People think I’m an alien because of the way I play,’ and I’m like, ‘It’s all about your songs,’ and he goes, ‘Exactly, exactly.’ It was this really kind of heavy experience.”

The meeting was eventually concluded by Wolfgang, who entered the room. “Eddie’s shredding, and he’s going, ‘Dad, dad, dad … we have to tune,’” Armstrong told Stern. “And then Eddie said the coolest thing, it was like a father-son moment: he goes, ‘Do you want to tune to me, or do you want me to tune to you?’

“That kind of bond that a father and son had as musicians, it always stuck with me as this beautiful thing.”

Yesterday (January 18), Green Day revealed they will play their classic albums ‘Dookie’ and ‘American Idiot’ in full on their ‘Saviors’ world tour. The upcoming tour will see the pop-punk trio – comprising Billie Joe Armstrong, Tré Cool and Mike Dirnt – play stadiums across the US, UK and Europe in support of their forthcoming new album ‘Saviors‘ (out January 19).

They’ll be joined by support acts such as Nothing But Thieves, The Hives, Donots, The Interrupters, Maid Of Ace, The Smashing Pumpkins, Rancid, and The Linda Lindas across select dates – get any remaining tickets here.

Reviewing ‘Saviors’, NME said: “There’s some serendipity in the band hitting the road to celebrate 30 years of ‘Dookie’ and 20 years of ‘American Idiot’ later this summer. Not only does ‘Saviors’ spiritually bridge the gap between the two, but it uses the palette of the best of the band to tell us something else.

“Look to the artwork: ‘Dookie’ was a cheeky carpet-bombing of shit, ‘American Idiot’ was a hand grenade, ‘Saviors’ is an act of defiance met with a shrug; a band saying, “We’re still here and we’re still fucked”.

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