Eddie Van Halen got his love for music from his father -- and also his introduction to alcohol. That's what the rock musician reveals in a profile in Esquire magazine by David Curcurito. The lead guitarist for the hard-rock band Van Halen also talks about battling alcoholism, what it's like for him to write his first album sober, and bringing along his son on tour with the band.
The rocker was a natural, but painfully shy. At the age of 12, to help him overcome his stage fright, Van Halen, who got his start playing with his dad, admits, his father introduced him to alcohol. "It wasn't really the partying. ... I don't mean to blame my dad, but when I started playing in front of people, I'd get so damn nervous. I asked him, 'Dad, how do you do it?' That's when he handed me the cigarette and the drink. And I go, 'Oh, this is good! It works!' For so long, it really did work. And I certainly didn't do it to party. I would do blow and I would drink, and then I would go to my room and write music."
Around 2006, after stints in rehab, Van Halen wanted to get off the drinking, according to the Esquire profile. So he switched to Klonopin to handle his nerves onstage. Then he got hooked on that, and had to switch to antidepressants. The performer recounts that for about a year, he was "catatonic." "All I wanted to do was stop drinking. But instead I literally could not communicate. Yeah, I was gone. I don't know what dimension I went to, but I was not here." He sat on the couch and watched episodes of "Law & Order."
Then, he says, slowly he got better. "The doctors helped me out with this amino-acid treatment stuff, or whatever it was. And slowly I came out of it, and the first thing I remember, really, was picking up a guitar, and my whole hand was locked into a fist. And I thought, 'OK, I guess I won't be playing anymore.'"