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Jerry Cantrell and Eddie Van Halen are both world-class guitarists. But that doesn't mean one's presence can't affect the other. That's just what the Alice in Chains shredder said happened back when his group opened for Van Halen. Indeed, Eddie's watchful eye caused what was likely Cantrell's "worst show."

The Alice in Chains guitarist looked back on the situation in an exhaustive new episode of Gibson TV's Icons about Cantrell's career. About halfway through the video — which one can watch down toward the bottom of this post — the guitarist recollected a bad case of nerves caused by the Van Halen namesake.

"I was getting ready to go onstage opening for his band," Cantrell remembers. "And he's standing in my pit with [his then wife] Valerie [Bertinelli] right next to him and [their son] Wolfie in her arms. And he's got his guitar on, and he's just running scales, and he's like, 'Hey dude! What's up?'"

The rocker continues, "I was so fucking nervous, so I came over and said hi to him. He's like, 'Oh man, you're gonna be fine!' And I think it was probably the worst show I ever played in my life because I could not stop thinking, 'He's right there.' I just couldn't focus, and I just couldn't wait until the gig was over."

Thankfully, that nervousness subsided once Van Halen and Alice in Chains continued playing gigs together. Eventually, a camaraderie even developed between Cantrell and the Van Halen guitarist that extended beyond the bands' joint concerts and continues into the present day.

"After that I was fine," Cantrell recalls, "but that first gig was nerve-racking because I just could not get out of my head that Eddie Van Halen was looking at me, and we're playing in front of Van Halen. But we ended up being really good friends, and they kept asking us to do more and more legs [of the tour]."

More than likely, the tour the Alice in Chains figurehead remembered was the 1991 trek that included both bands. It's the same one where the two groups engaged in a prank war that ended with Alice in Chains members storming the stage in women's underwear as Van Halen started to perform.

Alice in Chains' Jerry Cantrell Talks to Gibson TV's Icons - July 9, 2020

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