By Robert Medley
Drew Sevier stepped over cords and gear in the garage where his guitar with the red and white stripes and his amplifier were plugged in and ready to give the foot effect pedals a quick sound check.
The 39-year-old Yukon resident, a graduate of Yukon High School, class of 2000, carries on the six-string guitar style of the late Eddie Van Halen in the local tribute band Next Halen.
“I’m the guitar player,” Sevier said, setting up for a Sunday noon rehearsal at a level that would be tolerated in the housing addition. “I’m the guy who is Eddie,” Sevier said. But call him Drew. His band has an upcoming show at the Belle Isle Brewery in Oklahoma City. He doesn’t just impersonate Eddie Van Halen, his fingers keep his music alive. For the past three years, Sevier, and singer Dan Glacier, 57, and two brothers, Darek Johns, 30, on bass and Johnny Johns, 32, drums, have been touring the United States in the tribute band.
Eddie Van Halen died Oct. 6. He was the guitarist known for tapping the six-stringed axe with the bright stripes as Van Halen erupted on the Southern California music scene in the mid-1970s and then broke into the national music charts with the 1978 hit cover of The Kinks “You Really Got Me.” But it wasn’t until the 1990s that Sevier turned onto Van Halen’s music.
“I’ve been in a couple of bands once or twice. I’d played a gig or two,” Sevier said. “I started playing guitar at 10 or 11 years-old,” Sevier said.
It was in the 1990s when he saw Hootie and The Blowfish on David Letterman and he went to buy a CD and discovered Van Halen CDs at the store.
He remembers the first time he heard the drum cracks of Alex Van Halen and the riffs of his brother Eddie on guitar.
“I went out and started buying every Van Halen CD, I saw them live on MTV ‘Spring Break’ that was the first time I saw Eddie and that’s when I realized, I want to do that. I want to do what that guy is doing. That guy knows how to play guitar. That guy plays naturally.”
About the loss of the great guitarist, Sevier said.
The world lost a great guitar player in Eddie Van Halen, Sevier said.
“Well I think one, he (Eddie Van Halen) was probably the most innovative guitar player since (Jimi) Hendrix. I think if you are going to rank guitar players, not just rock, but I think in general. Jimi Hendrix, he invented electricity and then Eddie Van Halen modernized it, I mean he really did.”
“It sucks. It really does. I don’t know how to say it,” Sevier said about Eddie’s passing.
Sevier said he will continue to carry on the legacy, and the six-stringed guitar chops of the rock icon.
“I want at the end of a show, I want people leaving going, “Man, remember when we saw them in ‘81, or remember that first tour with Sammy (Hagar) man that was awesome.’ We want that,” Sevier said.
Glacier stepped next to Sevier and put his arm around him. Glacier, who also portrays Sammy Hagar, was around to remember the days when Van Halen first came to Oklahoma at the Oklahoma Jam, State Fair Speedway, 1978, the Civic Center Music Hall, 1979, Rocklahoma, Owen Field, 1980 and then when he finally got his first chance to see the band live at The Myriad in 1981.
“When we hit the stage, people know we are having fun, that’s why we have fun,” Glacier said.
The band plays at Belle Isle Brewery, 1900 Northwest Expressway on Saturday, Nov. 7 in 50 Penn Place.