Guitar Hero Eddie Van Halen Dies of Cancer
Man, this one is gonna leave mark. The one-of-a-kind super guitarist and co-founder of the Hall of Fame rocker group, Van Halen, Edward "Eddie" Van Halen is dead from throat cancer at the age of 65.
Southern rock and 70's/80's hard rock and roll are my musical genres of choice. I was a Van Halen fan from the first moment I heard "Runnin' With The Devil" on the radio.. One of my biggest musical disappointments was never seeing them live. (I Saw David Lee Roth at the Sundome as an intoxicated warm up for Motley Crew but that doesn't count now does it)
Eddie and drummer/brother Alex Van Halen were born in the Netherlands but moved to California when Eddie was seven and the California Rock and Roll vibe of the band's music and videos was just what the young American male(me) needed in the late 70's. The band was loud, fun, funny, outrageous and nobody played like guitar like Eddie.
Van Halen released their self-titled debut album in February of 1978. Front men like Roth come and go (ask Sammy Haggar) but Eddie's guitar was the amazing constant and it set the bar for all other rockers to follow. What Eddie innovated is now standard for other accomplished players but at the time, it was other worldly!
It may not have been his invention according to Wikipedia, but Van Halen certainly adapted, expanded and popularized the technique known as tapping. "The tapping technique began to be taken up by rock and blues guitarists in the late 1960s. One of the earliest such players was Canned Heat guitarist Harvey Mandel, whom Ritchie Blackmore claims to have seen using tapping onstage as early as 1968 at the Whiskey a Go Go. George lynch has corroborated this, mentioning that both he and Eddie Van Halen saw Mandel employ "a neo-classic tapping thing" in West Hollywood during the 1970s."
What Van Halen was able to do with that knowledge is immortal guitar gold. Check out Eruption on the YouTube clip below.
The rocking impish bad boy was married to America's Sweetheart, actress Valerie Bertinelli, for 26 years before divorcing in 2007. Their son, Wolfgang, joined the band as bassist when he was only 15.
Corey Irwin of Ultimate Classic Rock checked in with other guitarists for reaction to Eddie Van Halen's impact on Rock music. He writes, "if a man’s legacy is best defined by the influence he has on others, then it’s Eddie’s fellow musicians who can encapsulate what he meant to the world. Aerosmith's Joe Perry has stated that Van Halen “reinvented guitar playing,” while Jeff beck praised his “amazing technique.” Steve Vai called his contributions to guitar “immeasurable,” Tom Morello labeled him “innovative” and Phil Collen of Def leopard described Eddie as a “pioneer” who, along with Jimi Hendrix, defined “electric guitar as we know it today.”
Eddie Van Halen’s health battle began in 2000 when he was treated for tongue cancer. He was later declared cancer free, married actress Janie Liszewski in 2009 and two years later the cancer returned, spreading to his esophagus.
How iconic was Eddie Van Halen? You simply cannot have a conversation about American Classic Rock and Roll without featuring the group Van Halen and Edward "Eddie" Lodewijk van Halen was the heart, soul and sound of Van Halen.
Rest in Peace Eddie.
(Attention Angels. it's about to go down and get loud in Heaven tonight!)