Like many, I was very saddened to hear of Eddie Van Halen’s passing yesterday. After losing Helen Reddy and Mac Davis last week, it seems like 2020 has been especially unkind to the music industry.
What hit me so hard about Eddie’s passing is that we lost another musician who revolutionized his instrument. Although I was only 13 months old when Jimi Hendrix died in 1970, I’m sure that quite a few rock fans back then felt the way I do today. I remember the last two times I felt this gut-punch of a loss….when Jaco died in 1987 and when Miles died in 1991.
Eddie Van Halen was an incredibly gifted musician. He started playing classical piano at age six, winning four state competitions for classical piano. Considering that he did not know how to read music, and learned to play Mozart by ear (with a little improvisation here and there), that’s one hell of an accomplishment! When he switched from piano to guitar (with a quick period of playing the drums), this is where he truly became a virtuoso.
I’ll admit it – I favored “Van Hagar” over the original Van Halen lineup, because I felt that Sammy Hagar challenged the band to be more musical than David Lee Roth did. This does not take away from the awesomeness of the Van Halen albums from 1978 – 1984. I loved all the great hits from “Dance the Night Away” through to “Panama”, and any teenage boy who went through puberty when the “Hot for Teacher” video premiered on MTV owes the band a humongous debt of gratitude!
I was amazed to find out that Eddie Van Halen once asked Alice Cooper if he could reach out to Glen Campbell on his behalf to see if he could get a guitar lesson…knowing that Glen Campbell also played by ear (even on Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night”), I would’ve loved to have been a fly on the wall for the knowledge shared between these two incredible guitarists!
Fifty years from now, people will still be listening to Van Halen the way we still listen to Hendrix 50 years after his passing. Kids will still be learning how to play Van Halen guitar solos, because they are that phenomenal. Hell, they’ll still be trying to figure out Hendrix solos like we still are! This is why music legends never die – they leave a unique and incredible imprint, forever changing how their instrument will continue to be played.
I wonder if Mozart has already asked Eddie Van Halen to teach him how to play “Eruption.” Rest In Peace, EVH. 🎸😔❤️🎶⭐️