A few weeks back, the world lost one of the greatest rock stars to ever take the stage. Eddie Van Halen was the lead songwriter and guitarist for Van Halen. Eddie co-founded the band with his brother Alex Van Halen. With Eddie on the guitar, Alex on the drums, Mark Stone on the bass and David Lee Roth on vocals, there wasn’t much stopping Van Halen throughout much of the 1970s and 80s.
The band was officially formed in Pasadena, California in 1972. They became known for bringing Hard Rock to the forefront of the music industry. With shows containing more than enough high octane strumming, crashing, and singing to send anyone into an electric fever.
After writing thirteen albums over the course of nearly forty years, going on tour until the Fall of 2015, and inspiring bands for generations, Van Halen was truly one of the most recognizable and memorable bands to come out of the 1980s.
Eddie was one of my personal top five guitarists of all time due to his ability to play so uniquely in nearly every track. It would have been life-altering to get a chance to see him play the guitar. I have to put him at number three though for my all time guitar players list. That being the following:
- Jimmy Hendrix
- Kurt Cobain
- Eddie Van Halen
- Keith Richards
I’d be more than happy to make the argument about this order with anyone any time. But while Van Halen only ranks third, he’s one of the more unique on this list. People in the business used to say Van Halen had “the fastest right hand in the industry” and with songs like Panama, Hot for Teacher, and Running With the Devil, I am more than inclined to believe that statement.
There was a tribute from the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame just after he died. A bunch of guitarists from his era said great things about him, with Slash saying, “There wasn’t a single person after 1978, who picked up a guitar, and wasn’t touched by the influence of Eddie Van Halen.”
I’m sure that’s much different now. But if you don’t know who Eddie Van Halen was, look up some of his performances in live concert.
Music is one of the most unique and powerful of the arts. It’s variety, even within genres, is just truly mind blowing at times. And Eddie Van Halen was truly one of the greatest at his craft. He died at the age of 64 years old. Rest in peace Eddie, shred on.
Above is Van Halen’s iconic Fender “Frankenstrat” with the iconic 5150 design.