"I heard Eddie Van Halen's guitar coming out of my friend David Farmer's garage after football practice – and it tore my world open," the country singer recalls

 

By Darlene Aderoju
October 15, 2020 10:00 AM
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Eddie Van Halen, Kenny Chesney and Alex Van Halen
courtesy kenny chesney

Eddie Van Halen was just doing what he does best when he performed with Kenny Chesney during one of the singer's concerts — but for the country star, it was a vision come true.

"It was one of those moments that every kid who dreams about rock music dreams of," Chesney, 52, tells PEOPLE. "It was so alive, so in the moment, and both Van Halen brothers [Eddie and Alex] played like it was their show, their fans."

He adds of the memorable experience, "They just brought it and every single person onstage was losing their mind. The audience loved it and so did Eddie and [his older brother] Alex ... They were so generous with their time."

"You can imagine how I felt having [Van Halen band manager] Irving Azoff ask, 'Is it alright if Eddie Van Halen gives you a call?' And then looking down a little bit later to see that 818 area code and thinking, 'That’s Eddie Van Halen,'" says the star.

RELATED VIDEO: Eddie Van Halen Dies at 65 After 'Arduous' Battle with Throat Cancer

"I answered and he sounds just like you'd think but then he falls into talking to you about music, life, road life and all these things," Chesney says. "It's like you've always been friends and he knows your life and he understands."

Van Halen died last Tuesday after a decade-long battle with cancer. He was 65.

During Chesney's concert, the late guitar virtuoso and his brother Alex, 67, performed  "Jump" — one of the family duo's most successful hits with their Van Halen bandmates. They also played a few more of their now-classic tunes.

Eddie Van Halen and Alex Van Halen in February 1996
Bei/Shutterstock

Chesney will never forget performing with the iconic Van Halen, nor will he forget the first time he encountered his music.

"I first heard Eddie Van Halen's guitar coming out of my friend David Farmer's garage after football practice and it tore my world open," Chesney remembers of the Hall of Famer. "You never forget the first time you heard it and it sets a bar for life."

For more on Eddie Van Halen's legacy, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.