Bill & Ted Face the Music star Alex Winter has revealed how Eddie Van Halen made a huge impact on the entire franchise. In addition, Bill & Ted co-creator Ed Solomon paid tribute to the legendary guitarist, revealing even more about he and the band’s influence on the movies. The world was shocked to hear of Van Halen’s death yesterday at the age of 65. The guitarist lost his long battle with throat cancer, which had advanced in recent weeks.
In a new interview, Alex Winter spoke about Eddie Van Halen and hearing the band’s music for the first time. Like many, it was the iconic Van Halen I (1978) that got the actor into the band, especially the track “Running with the Devil.” Winter says, “I just love that song. I know that ‘Eruption’ is the one that’s got the massive solo on it, but ‘Running With the Devil’ was uplifting and powerful and innovative and very, very accessible.” He went on to reveal how Van Halen impacted Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Winter explains.
“The image that Eddie had runs through all of our movies. Bill and Ted are supposed to be into hard rock. But were these sunny, optimistic California guys. And that’s really embodied by Eddie Van Halen. We talk about Iron Maiden a lot, but I think we would have come up listening to Van Halen and the positivity that was infused in the music. I can’t speak for Keanu, but speaking for myself, the air guitar came completely from Eddie’s playing. I’m a huge Who fan and I’m a huge Townshend fan, but there’s a kind of street punk violence to Townshend that is not to be found anywhere in Bill & Ted. And I always thought of Eddie’s incredible physicality with the air guitar stuff, and just the way these guys would have seen him and how that would have impacted them.”
Ed Solomon penned a tribute to Eddie Van Halen on Twitter after he heard the news. “Super sad to hear about the passing of Eddie Van Halen,” Solomon said. “He was a big influence on Chris & me as we were writing Bill & Ted. In fact, when director Stephen Herek was reading the script he got 3 pages in, stopped, put on [Van Halen album] 1984 & resumed. We wanted the movie to be a cinematic ‘Jump.'” Alex Winter went on to add that they tried many times to get Van Halen in all three movies. You can read what he had to say below.
“We tried to get Van Halen into each one of the movies. [Laughs]. We asked him, but he said no. A very Spinal Tap moment. [Laughs]. He was a famously private person and he wasn’t, you know, the front man. He was extremely charismatic and he was always very genteel, but he always turned us down. And then the third movie [2020’s Bill & Ted Face the Music], the guys wrote a whole scene around him. We spoke at length to the Van Halen people, and he declined and said it was for personal reasons. We didn’t obviously have any idea what that was, but it was pretty clear now what it was. It’s just devastating. Completely aside from any of our goofy stuff, it’s just a really sad, sad loss.”
Ed Solomon confirmed that they tried to get Eddie Van Halen in Bill & Ted Face the Music. “We tried to get him to do something – anything – in Face the Music, but they said he was unavailable and wouldn’t tell us why. Sadly, I think I know now,” revealed Solomon. It would have been pretty amazing for millions of Van Halen and Bill and Ted fans all over the world to see the two worlds come together. Luckily, the legend of Van Halen is heavily featured in the trilogy.
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure has numerous references to Eddie Van Halen, most notably as the duo lament not being able to get him to join the Wyld Stallyns. However, as Alex Winter and Ed Solomon point out, it’s more than just references to his name or his wizard-like guitar playing: it’s his spirit and that sly smile that he always seemed to have plastered on his face that is present throughout the all installments. Alex Winter’s comments on Eddie Van Halen were originally published by Rolling Stone.