Hard rock and metal guitarist Eddie Van Halen leaves an unforgettable legacy of music.
Pioneer. There’s no better word to describe Eddie Van Halen. Let’s take a look at his signature axe, and one of the most recognizable guitars of the 80s. He chopped up bits from a couple guitars, threw together a $50 body and a $80 neck, and the FrankenStrat was born. He destroyed the status quo of needing pricey gear to play well and inspired mini Van Halen’s to go destroy their gear bought with daddy’s dime.
You might have, scratch that, you most definitely have, heard the hit song “Jump.” We all recognize that killer guitar solo belonging to the legendary Eddie VH. But who’s the mystery man behind the keyboard solo? Well, that would also be Mr. Eddie Van Halen. His music know how was insane. He developed his style on both the guitar and keyboard without reading a single note of music.
Without a base in music theory, Van Halen had the juice when it came to composition. Sure him and his brother Alex had taken classical piano lessons as a kid, but those only went so far in the composition of songs like “Spanish Fly,” and “Eruption.” The latter of which, was an off the cuff recording of one of Alex and Eddie’s jam sessions. But more notably, “Eruption” was one of the first instances that we meet the legendary two hand classical guitar note picking style Eddie brought to metal. He played his guitar like a piano, making impossible fingers spreads that would make the Great Khali jealous.
Van Halen tracks are featured on many of my playlists, and while they’ve never been my number one, I’d be lying if I said my jaw didn’t hit the floor the first time I put on “Eruption” in the car, or if I didn’t crank up the radio when it played “Panama” bright and early in the morning.
Sure Eddie was an innovator and a musical savant who went on to inspire musicians and bands to this day. But one thing I can’t help but admire is the guy’s attitude. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Eddie Van Halen says, “ Because I personally have never rated myself as a guitarist, or anyone else. To me it’s not the Olympics or a competition, you know what I mean?”
We live in a time far removed from the ballads of Led Zeppelin, Clapton’s singing six string, and the Jump of Van Halen that it’s hard to picture any of the blokes in the band getting old, much less sick. But as long as there’s a kid teaching himself Eruption on his dinky off brand Stratocaster, the spirit of Eddie Van Halen lives on. Rockstars are immortal.
Ryan Ford '23,