A cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “If 6 Was 9” featuring guitarwork by the late Eddie Van Halen has been unearthed. The archival track was recorded in the ’90s with keyboardist David Garfield, who recovered and remastered the song for a new EP, Guitar Heros OTB, Vol. 1.
Eddie shreds through a decadent solo on the classic Hendrix number. The Van Halen guitarist wasn’t known for his psychedelic flourishes, but he unfurls some mesmerizing licks that would have no doubt impressed Hendrix himself. After all, “If 6 Was 9” stands as a highlight on the latter’s 1967 opus Axis: Bold as Love, one of the great psych-rock albums of all-time.
The cover came about when Garfield, a veteran keyboard and session musician, met Eddie Van Halen in a local cigar bar and “got to talking.” At the time, Garfield was working on a tribute to the late Toto drummer Jeff Porcaro.
“I mentioned it to Eddie, asking if he’d like to participate,” Garfield recalled to Guitar World. “Eddie’s response was a resounding ‘Yes!'”
Garfield recorded the beef of the track at Chick Corea’s Mad Hatter Studios in Los Angeles, while Eddie recorded his overdubs at his own 5150 Studios.
“I went up to his house to work on the tracks with him, and he was so cool,” Garfield said. “We bonded as keyboard players, too. … We continued to stay in touch, and often he would call me out of the blue, asking for help with keyboard related stuff. I even found a guy to travel with him on tour and play additional parts offstage, as well as be his keyboard tech.”
Garfield rescued the recordings and remastered the song for release following Eddie Van Halen’s tragic passing last month after a long battle with cancer.
“I’m sure sorry we lost him way too soon; I was hoping to collaborate with him again,” Garfield said. “Rest in peace, my brother Ed.”
The cover of “If 6 Was 9” comes on the heels of the recent Jimi Hendrix release, Live in Maui. We’re giving away a prize pack that includes the box set, a Fender Stratocaster guitar, and more. Stream the Eddie Van Halen cover of “If 6 Was 9” and enter our Live in Maui contest below.