Yesterday afternoon I received word that Guitar God Eddie Van Halen lost his longtime battle with cancer. It made me stop what I was doing and to count my blessings for being able to meet him on a few occasions. I said a prayer for Eddie, Wolfgang, Alex, and his entire family. I then went looking for my pictures with him, and could only find two. See them below.

David Lee Roth said earlier this year that he didn't think Eddie Van Halen would ever tour again. When pressed for a reason why, Diamond Dave just said it's not my place, you should ask Eddie. I'm guessing Eddie was not doing very well at that point.

In the 80’s and 90’s Van Halen was my favorite band. The first time I got to meet the band was in Buffalo in 1991. We drove up to the Aud. in Buffalo to see the show and we got to meet the band beforehand. Meeting them was one of the biggest thrills of my life up to that point. I remember when Eddie, Alex, Michael, and Sammy walked into the room my heart was pounding in my chest. I had met bands before that, but not my favorite band.

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I remember the Warner Brothers record guy telling me that he was trying to get the band to join us at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo for wings after the show. So I figured I would let everybody else that was backstage talk to them because I was going to hang out and have wings and beer with them later. That did not happen.

In 1993, I got to hang out backstage with them again in Weedsport on the 4th of July. We got to spend more time with them this time around. It was prior to that show and it was just the band, me, and three of my friends, plus the Warner Brother record rep. It was another awesome show and we had a great time hanging out with them.

I saw them in concert at least three more times after that show. One of the shows was at Montage Mountain in Scranton. We went back stage before the show and Eddie and Alex seemed to be rushed. They came out shook our hands, said hello, posed for a picture, and then ran off. Sammy and Mikey hung out for about another 10 to 15 minutes after the brothers made their way back to the dressing room.

I saw Van Halen a couple more times after that Montage show, but that was last time I got to meet the full band. I got to hang with Sammy Hagar four or five times while he was on his solo tours after he left Van Halen.

Even though I didn't really have any one on one time with him, I found Eddie to be a cool, funny, down to earth guy.

Eddie, rest in peace my friend. Thanks for all the awesome music over the years. I’m sure you will be up there jamming with Hendrix when I get there.

Jim Free front row left, with Van Halen in Buffalo 1991
Jim Free standing left with Van Halen @ Weedsport New York, July 4th. 1993