If you grew up loving Van Halen, Motley, and many of metal and hard rock’s finest, you know the work of photographer Neil Zlozower.
Especially if you’re a Van Halen fan, because Zloz worked with them during the Roth era, and was practically considered the fifth member of the group. In 2007, Zloz put out his first book, Van Halen: A Visual History 1978-1984, and now Zloz has dedicated his best shots of Ed to his own volume, simply titled Eddie Van Halen, which will be released October 19. (All of Zlozower’s books are published by Chronicle.)
“As far as I’m concerned, Eddie changed the face of guitar playing,” Zlozower says. “There was pre-Eddie and after-Eddie. I have a lot of images of Ed that the world has never seen, and I feel it’s time to show them.”
In modern day, a photographer is lucky to get twenty minutes of a musician’s time, but Zloz enjoyed access to Van Haln that very few could get.
“One of the reason the band liked me was I was one of them,” Zlozower continues. “Besides someone I worked with, Ed was a close friend back then. We used to be on the tour bus together playing video games for hours and hours, watching movies, doing whatever friends do. We had a lot in common. We were about the same age, we liked the same things back then, partying, girls, name it.”
Part of what’s always made Zlozower a great rock photographer is he’s a true fan of the music and the artists that create it. Although Neil doesn’t play guitar, he’s lived every guitar geek dream in that he was constantly up close, watching Eddie play when he was at the top of his game. ”Half the time, I’d be shooting Ed, and he wouldn’t even know I was there because he was so into his guitar,” Zlozower says. “Obviously, there were times it was mesmerizing. I saw things on and off stage that were amazing.”
The book not only has amazing shots of Ed playing his ass off, but it also comes with an introduction by Slash, and exclusive commentary from fellow axe gods Jimmy Page, Angus Young, Ritchie Blackmore, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, John 5, and Zakk Wylde, to name a few. One great exclusive is commentary from Quincy Jones, who worked with Ed when he laid down the Beat It solo on Thriller.
As far as the band’s backstage shenanigans, Zloz says those sordid tales will indeed be revealed some day down the road. (He’s got pictures of that too, but they couldn’t be published for obvious legal reasons).
“Motley Crue’s supposed to be the bad boys of rock and roll, but I saw and did worse worse things on tour with Van Halen than I ever did with Motley. We used to do some pretty sick, crazy, wild, insane things, and I liked to be part of the insanity. It was a great time. It was pre-AIDS, and there was no shortage of girls. Those days will never be relived.”