Eddie van Halen passed away on October 6 in a Santa Monica hospital in California. The 65-year-old guitar virtuoso left this world after a long battle with cancer. We celebrate his life and legacy with the Eddie van Halen channel.
“My heart is broken and I don’t think I’ll ever fully recover from this loss,” writes his son Wolfgang van Halen in a very emotional Instagram post. “He was the best father I could ever ask for. Every moment I’ve shared with him on and off stage was a gift.”
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I can’t believe I’m having to write this, but my father, Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, has lost his long and arduous battle with cancer this morning. He was the best father I could ever ask for. Every moment I’ve shared with him on and off stage was a gift. My heart is broken and I don’t think I’ll ever fully recover from this loss. I love you so much, Pop.
Eddie van Halen
Eddie van Halen is one of the greatest rock guitar players the world has ever seen. Born in Amsterdam in 1955, Edward Lodewijk van Halen moved to the United States with his family at the age of seven. Together with his brother Axel they formed the band Mammoth, which later was renamed to Van Halen.
Without Eddie van Halen’s phenomenal technique of two-handed tapping and awesome all-round guitar skills, there would not have been a Dimebag Darrell, Joe Satriani or a Steve Vai. Just think about that for a moment. Yeah, he’s one of those rock gods that reinvented guitar playing. One of his most famous, vulgar displays of raw guitar power is the track “Eruption,” in which we see why Eddie van Halen is the greatest of his generation.
What is the first track you think of when you hear the name Van Halen? Is it “Jump”? Oh no, wait… “Running With the Devil”? Or maybe “Why Can’t This Be Love.” Well, we can go on for a while. The band became an instant success after releasing their first self-titled record with the help of Kiss bass player Gene Simmons.
Fun fact: The Van Halen brothers met frontman David Lee Roth, the original vocalist of the band, when they were hiring gear for a gig. After a while, they became friends and the rest is history. Even though the band members of Van Halen changed through the years, Axel and Eddie always were the core of the group.
Eddie van Halen wasn’t just a rock guitarist. His skills, fame and the sound of his custom-made Frankenstrat guitar reached across all genres. That’s why Michael Jackson’s producer Quincy Jones asked him to perform a solo on the Thriller single “Beat It.” The track won two Grammys, one for Record of the Year, and one for… wait for it … Best Male Rock Vocal Performance. This is partly due to the work of Eddie van Halen. Quincy Jones told him to go full hard rock on the track’s solo. Van Halen felt honoured and did this as a favor for the producer. Later on, it turned out to be one of the greatest crossover solos of all times.
In an interview Eddie van Halen tells the story in which he walks by a record store and “Beat It” blasts through the speakers. When the solo comes on, two boys stop nosing around in the records, look at each other and laugh: “This guy really tries hard to sound like Van Halen.” The truth is that the solo that you hear on the Michael Jackson track is just a part of what Van Halen played. Toto guitarist Steve Lukather, who was the session musician on the track, had to trim it down to twenty seconds, because Quincy Jones thought the solo was too wild for the mainstream.
World’s Greatest Guitarist
According to a poll in Rolling Stone Magazine, Eddie van Halen is the World’s Greatest Guitarist. Well, he certainly is one of the hard rock gods, an inspiration for many generations to pick up a guitar and learn the art of shredding. So, don’t wait and start playing. Van Halen may have left this planet, but he will always remain one the greatest stars in the ever-evolving musical universe. Happy jamming!