How Mick Jagger Prepared Joe Satriani to Perform Van Halen
Joe Satriani will be charged with playing Eddie Van Halen’s guitar parts on the upcoming Best of All Worlds Tour in 2024. It’s a daunting challenge, but Satriani has experience filling in for legends.
“It was totally out of left field that I got that gig,” the guitarist explained during a recent conversation with Rolling Stone. “I thought, ‘Oh, I don’t play like Brian Jones and Keith Richards and all these great players that have been part of the Rolling Stones.’”
Still, he jumped at the chance to collaborate with one of rock’s biggest icons. And, as the band was preparing to hit the road, Satriani addressed the elephant in the room.
“I just put it to Mick one day in rehearsal, ‘I don’t play like any of these guys. What do you want me to do? How close do you want me to get?’” Satriani recalled. “And he went, ‘Oh, just forget about that. Just get into the song and do your thing. That’s all you got to do.’ And he was not looking for me to replace anything unless he thought I was really feeling it.”
What Satriani learned was to find a balance – honoring the original song, but still putting his distinctive spin on it.
“When you play ‘Sympathy for the Devil,’ I can’t get that great Keith Richards solo out of my head. But you play around it,” he explained. “I think what I found way back in ’88 was that if you quote the most important moments [of the song], then you trigger something in the audience, and they become very receptive to your approach to playing it.”
How Joe Satriani Is Preparing for the Best of All Worlds Tour
Satriani will employ a similar approach to Van Halen’s material as he prepares for the Best of All Worlds Tour. The trek will see the guitarist re-team up with his Chickenfoot bandmates – and former Van Halen members – Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony, along with drummer Jason Bonham.
Satriani admitted it will be “really hard” to learn Eddie’s parts, and that he’ll need to “completely change the direction of [his] technique” to get it right. The guitarist is well aware of how revered Van Halen’s material remains, which is part of the reason he’s taking his preparation so seriously.
READ MORE: The Best Song From Every Van Halen Album
“If you’re lucky enough to play music that has really had a big impact on society around the world, that really had a dent in culture, it’s an extra experience,” Satriani explained. “I learned that when I went out with Jagger and you play a Rolling Stone[s] song that everybody knows. A couple of generations of people know the song. And the catalog under Sammy Hagar, which includes Van Halen and Sammy stuff, and Chickenfoot and Montrose, it’s really huge. And a lot of the hits have that quality. It has been the soundtrack of people’s lives.”