In a new interview with BBC Radio 6 Music, SMASHING PUMPKINS frontman Billy Corgan was asked if he ever got a chance to meet Eddie Van Halen and whether the legendary VAN HALEN axeman was an influence on his guitar playing. Billy responded (hear audio below): “Oh my God! For American guitar players, he was the supreme thing. He’s the one who pushed us to be better than we probably would have been.

“I was lucky because, around 1997 [or] ’98, there was a guitar magazine in America, and I went to them, and I said, ‘I’d really like to interview Eddie Van Halen,'” he continued. “And they said, ‘Why do you wanna interview Eddie Van Halen?’ I said, ‘Because I’d really like to introduce him to a generation of alternative guitar players.’ To me, he really is an alternative guitar player; I know he gets kind of lumped in the other way. And so they allowed me to basically have a four-hour interview with Eddie at his studio. I got to sit two feet away from Eddie and watch him play, and I’m telling you, it was like a religious experience. I mean, the man was so gifted, so kind.”

Corgan added: “I’ll tell you a quick story. Towards the end of the interview, I said to him, ‘There’s all those stories about the amp you used on ‘Van Halen I’ and tada tada da. I said, ‘Do you still have the amp?’ He goes, ‘Oh, yeah.’ He takes me around the corner, kind of near the dustbin, and he’s, like, ‘There it is.’ I go, ‘What about all the stories that you did all this special modification?’ He goes, ‘Oh, it’s not true at all.'”

Eddie died on October 6 at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, California at the age of 65. His wife, Janie, was by his side, along with his son, Wolfgang, and Alex, Eddie‘s brother and VAN HALEN drummer.

The iconic VAN HALEN axeman died from complications due to cancer, his son confirmed.

VAN HALEN was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2007.

Rolling Stone magazine ranked Eddie Van Halen No. 8 in its list of the 100 greatest guitarists.