It’s been a month since Eddie Van Halen passed away from his long battle with lung cancer and, as usual, their influence starts to set in once you know they’re gone. David Bowie and Michael Jackson became even more important to me after they passed away, now feeling compelled to study their music. I had never listened to Van Halen religiously, and surprisingly enough, I wasn’t a fan. My dad always told me that Sammy Hagar was the best Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth ever was, forcing that into my head every time we heard an early Van Halen song on the radio.
The only Van Halen song that ever ended up on one of my rock playlists growing up was “Eruption,” the one-minute, forty-two-second guitar solo that introduced Eddie Van Halen to the world. A song without words, you had to respect this song. I wasn’t into the theater that David Lee Roth brought to the stage and I didn’t like the direction he helped bring Van Halen into the 80s, but if you were a rock fan or a fan of music in general, there was no way you wouldn’t. being impressed and completely stunned by Eddie tapping on his guitar.
When Van Halen’s debut album ‘Van Halen’ was released in February 1978, Eddie’s guitar solo ‘Eruption’ easily became one of the most iconic guitar solos for any budding guitarist and in rock music. in general. It changed the whole basis of what a guitarist could play and shaped hard rock. No one could figure out how he was playing so fast, but it turned out that Eddie was playing with two hands, what is called the two-handed tapping technique that many professional guitarists attribute to him. As guitarists like Jimmy Page played one-handed in songs like ‘Heartbreaker’, Van Halen said, “I thought, ‘I can play like this, and you wouldn’t know if I was using this finger or the one. -this.’ But you just move it and it’s like, ‘You’ve got a big hand there, mate. That’s one hell of a spread.
Eddie Van Halen was born in the Netherlands in 1955 into a family of musicians. His father Jan van Halen was a Dutch jazz pianist, clarinetist and saxophonist and at an early age he and his brother Alex Van Halen signed him up for piano lessons once they moved to Pasadena, California. Like playing the piano, Eddie used his piano lessons as an approach when learning the guitar, playing with both hands. His brother Alex, the drummer for Van Halen, told him to play backwards before they were signed and released their debut album, so people wouldn’t imitate what made Eddie famous.
The album “Van Halen” was released at a time when disco music was the most popular genre and if not disco, punk music. Rock music artists like the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin were still spinning and creating music, but rock was morphing into a ton of subgenres. Many artists at the time had to adapt to the direction 70s music was taking, which is why this album was even more surprising when it came out. Hard rock musicians like AC/DC and Motörhead were gritty and Deep Purple, slower sounding and more masculine, were well into their musical careers and were the definitive opposite of disco artists ABBA and Bee Gees, they were loud and were playing hard. Van Halen not only played hard, but they played fast and were on a new level of energy.
With the number of different genres, there were a lot of different guitarists to idolize at the time. Punk fans admired Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols and Johnny Ramone of the Ramones. Classic rock fans admired Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page. While the guitar was proficient in every rock song of the 70s, Eddie Van Halen peaked at the end and made a name for himself from the start, enshrining himself in the list of one of the greatest guitarists of all. the temperature.
His guitar playing was a game-changer for future hard rock guitarists. Extreme lead guitarist Nuno Bettencourt praises van Halen for saying that this type of playing was so “foreign” to him. He influenced a whole new generation of rock music, especially the hard rock that came out in the 80s. Zakk Wylde, lead guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne, also says he couldn’t believe the sound was that of a guitar when he first heard it.
Eddie makes every song he’s in memorable and when I think back to any song with him on guitar, I’ll remember the song of him absolutely shredded. The ‘Thriller’ album reminded me a lot of Jackson’s ‘Off The Wall’, still with that 70s disco and soul sound, but I felt it carried over into his second album produced by Quincy Jones. When Jones called Van Halen and brought him into the studio, Jones told him to do “whatever he wanted”. Van Halen joked that he should be careful telling him to do whatever he wants. Listening to “Beat It” for the first time, he changed the song and improvised two guitar solos. When the record was released, he was uncredited as a guitarist and did not appear in the music video. He said that after the song came out he went to a record store and saw a group of teenagers listening to the song and they said “Listen to this guy trying to sound like Eddie Van Halen”. Even his bandmates didn’t know he had agreed to play guitar for Jackson, making excuses as to why he hadn’t told them.
Eddie was someone who took the guitar to the next level when the guitar branched out into all genres when guitar solos became less necessary for commercial success in a band’s album. I know in a few years, when I think of Eddie Van Halen again, I’ll go straight to Youtube and watch him play “Eruption” with that smile on his face, making history.