Musical guest Jack White, who was a last-minute addition to the NBC late-night series after country singer Morgan Wallen lost his invite after violating pre-show COVID-19 protocols, appeared onstage with a cobalt blue guitar designed for him by Van Halen himself. The White Stripes frontman played the custom instrument while performing a riveting version of his song, “Lazaretto.”
The musician gave fans a look at his special guitar earlier in the day. In an Instagram post, seen here, he shared photos of the epic piece as he paid respects to the late music legend following his death from cancer.
“I thought it could be a nice gesture for me to use this blue Eddie Van Halen model guitar for one of the songs tonight on SNL,” he captioned a series of pics on his social media page.
“The guitar was designed by Eddie (with a few customizations I had added). Eddie was very kind to me and saw to it that this guitar was made for me to my specs. I won’t even insult the man’s talent by trying to play one of his songs tonight. Thanks again Eddie for this guitar and rest in peace sir.”
In addition to White’s tribute, the show ended with a brief clip from Van Halen’s vintage performance while he was in town for Saturday Night Live in February of 1987. In the iconic clip, Van Halen was seen jamming with the SNL house band.
After the clip played, host Bill Burr ended the episode with a nod to the rock legend as he stood alongside White and guest star Maya Rudolph.
“Rest in peace, Eddie Van Halen,” he said.
While Van Halen’s famous band never performed on Saturday Night Live, former music director G.E. Smith also recalled the guitarist’s visit to SNL’s New York City studio more than 30 years ago.
In an Instagram post, seem here, Smith revealed that Van Halen came along when his then-wife, actress Valerie Bertinelli, was the host for the show. He added that he was “thrilled” to meet the rock star and invited him to hang out in his office, where Van Halen picked up a Martin acoustic Smith kept in the office and started to play it.
“It was brilliant, amazing playing. All the tapping, blazing, beautiful stuff he was famous for, but on an acoustic!” Smith wrote.