Guitarist Nick Bowcott on How He Met Eddie Van Halen & the Band During the ’80s: “My name is Simon Van Halen” – 2022

Ben Eller: Nick Bowcott told me the CRAZIEST Van Halen story that NOBODY has ever heard… until now! Who is Simon Van Halen???

Simon Van Halen. I don’t know if he exists or not, but he existed for an afternoon in the ’80s. Long story short, my band Grim Reaper, we used this company called LSD, which was an acronym for Light, Sound, Design. We used them for every gig we had. I was at the University of Manchester. We had done a gig on the weekend, and they said, “Hey, we’ll be in Manchester on Wednesday because Van Halen are playing. Come down and watch from the soundboard. They’re playing Birmingham, your hometown, the next day. Get on the truck and come with us.” So, I got to see Van Halen twice.

I went early to the venue, and they went: “We know you’re a big Eddie Van Halen fan. We know the hotel where they’re staying.” I got ‘Women and Children First,’ and I thought, “Ok, how do I do this?”

So, I called the hotel from a payphone, no cellphones existed, no internet. I called up the hotel and with the worst American accent, I said: “Yeah, hi, my name is Simon Van Halen. My cousins, Edward and Alex, are checking in later. There might be a big party. They might be under pseudonyms. But I would just like to leave them a message.” They went, “Certainly, sir, let me get a pen and paper.” So, they started writing down this message. “Hey, this is Simon. I just wanted to wish you a great gig. Hopefully, I will see you later on,” then I said, “Oh, by the way, where are you located because I’m new in town and I’m not too familiar with the area,” and they told me. I said: “Well, as happenstance would have it, I’ll be passing that way. Do you mind if I sneak in and surprise them?” They went: “Yeah, they haven’t arrived yet. Come on down and we’ll alert security.”

I went to the hotel. I put a suit jacket on. I had my album. I had the guitar, which had stripes on it because I wanted to get stuff signed. And there were fifty or sixty kids there that day, just hoping that it was their hotel. I walk up to the security guy at the front of the hotel. They put one out because of all the kids. He goes, “Are you Simon Van Halen?” I go, “Yes, I am.” He said, “Come on in.”

So, I go in, and they said: “They still haven’t arrived. Go to the bar and have some complimentary drinks.” I’m like, “Ok.” I go to the bar and Dutch courage, pun intended, I’m like, “I’m in trouble now. This is working.” So, I was there for like, three or four beers later.

This big American guy walks up and goes, “Simon Van Halen, huh? My bet is, you’re not even American.” I said, “Busted. Guilty on both charges. I’m just a huge fan.” He goes: “The band thinks it’s funny. They will meet you.” It worked. I didn’t get in trouble.

So, I have my ‘Women and Children First’ album signed by all four members from that day, and better still, I got the backplate of the guitar signed by Edward. It worked. Lying sometimes, a little white lie, it works. The funny thing is, I got to work with Edward, may he rest in peace, and we had some great conversations, but I never felt the moment was right to insert that story. So, I never told him.