Eddie Van Halen and Leslie West had been friends for years by the time the Mountain guitarist made a mid-'90s guest appearance with Van Halen. But that didn’t take any joy away from the moment for either of them.

As the video below shows, there was very much a meeting of emotional minds was they played West’s signature track, “Mississippi Queen,” to a massive audience. The two had jammed together before – West fondly recalled a non-stop 90-minute session in a hotel in 1987 – but it was different to do it in concert.

Van Halen later praised West’s “incredible tone in Mountain.” But Eddie also had a big effect on the older guitarist’s career, inspiring him during a period when West was dealing with addiction issues back in 1977.

“I'd stopped playing, didn't even want any guitars around,” West told Guitar World a decade later. “I went to see two shows. One was because Neal Schon said to me, 'Leslie, you gotta check out this kid who's opening for us; he plays guitar like an organ, like a Bach organ fugue.’ I was totally taken aback: It was Eddie Van Halen, and he impressed me the way [Eric] Clapton impressed me. And then the next night, I went to see Sammy Hagar. What a co-inky-dink, eh?”

West hit the stage with both Van Halen and Hagar in August 1995 at the Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh, N.Y., but that wasn’t the only time his music was part of the band's shows: Van Halen also included a portion of “Mississippi Queen” in a jam section during a February 2008 concert with David Lee Roth.

Eddie Van Halen died in October, and West passed just two months later. Both were rightly hailed as guitar greats.

West discussed his lasting legacy in 1987, perhaps offering a hint as to what the guitarist shared with the world: “If you take a hundred players and put them in a room, 98 or 99 of 'em are gonna sound the same; the one who plays different, has some of his own, that's the one you're gonna remember.”

Watch Leslie West Guest with Van Halen in 1995

Watch Van Halen Play Part of ‘Mississippi Queen’ in 2008

 

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