We’re saddened to learn that Van Halen guitarist Eddie Van Halen died on Tuesday after a long battle with throat cancer. He was 65. One of the most celebrated guitarists in rock & roll’s illustrious history, Eddie Van Halen will be missed by millions including these (mostly local) musicians who offered us their tributes:
Eric Dover (The Lickerish Quartet/Jellyfish/Slash’s Snakepit)
Just woke up from a nap to the sad news. My deepest condolences go out to the entire VH family. There will never be another like Ed. He influenced so many including myself. It’s hard to find the words at a time like this. All I can say is we were so lucky to have him in our lifetime and the music he gave us will live forever. Rest in peace.
Mat Dauzat (Dauzat St. Marie)
Imagine the unlikely odds of a rock guitarist becoming woven into the very fabric of global pop culture. But make the mere mention of the last name ‘Van Halen’ on any continent on this planet, and you’ll find no shortage of adoring fans. Ask any guitar player to cite their influences, and you’d be hard-pressed to find many who don’t name Eddie Van Halen in the forefront… with many likely even taking the extra step of citing Eddie as the reason they gravitated to the instrument in the first place. Eddie’s guitar playing spoke a language we had never heard before. It was a dialect so nuanced and beautiful that it captivated our imagination and inspired our passion to acquire even one TENTH the proficiency he displayed on the instrument. It is in this perpetual journey toward elevated levels of proficiency that the spirit of Edward Van Halen will live forever.
Dan West (LoveyDove)
My earliest memories of Eddie Van Halen involve him tooling around Studio City in his Lamborghini. Growing up in Studio City myself and sharing that zip code with one of the greatest guitarists of all time was pretty heady stuff for a budding young musician. I threw papers for the Herald Examiner and would often stop at Ringside Liquor at Whitsett and Moorpark for some bubble gum and soda. One Saturday morning I saw Eddie there stocking up with a 24 pack of Budweiser and a carton of Marlboro Reds. He immediately saw me staring wide eyed at his bounty and he flashed me that famous, mischievous grin. He checked out and walked back to his car. When I returned to my bike he waved to me and then tore off at breakneck speed South down Whitsett back toward 5150 which is still about halfway up Coldwater Canyon. I learned that not only was Eddie an amazing guitar player, he was a really cool person and totally unaffected by his stardom. R.I.P. Eddie. Your music will always rock our worlds.
Frank Meyer (Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs)
Eddie Van Halen is without a doubt the reason why I play guitar. I always loved music as a kid, but when I heard his playing over the radio, I froze in my tracks and it changed my life forever. He was a true enigma. He had so much firepower, yet so much passion and emotion. Such a complex musician, yet he wrote so many simple, meat-n-potatoes songs. Every note was bursting into flames, yet on his face was this pure, innocent, childlike smile that undercut the venom of those riffs. Eddie Van Halen didn’t just make my dreams come true when he played guitar, he created my dreams. He was the very architect of my musical imagination. I will forever be in debt to the gifts he gave us. We all will be. Our Beethoven just left the building.
Morpheus Blak (The Nymphs/Inger Lorre)
I’ve many times cited over the decades in discussions about the evolution of the rock guitar sound and style, that there is that very small handful of players and moments that were of the most paramount importance and influence in that evolution timeline. The first was Jimi Hendrix- the man who started it all in terms of hard rock/heavy rock. I then place Ronnie Montrose next, because the self titled 1973 Montrose release was the first album that paved the way for the modern rock guitar sound- huge guitar tones that broke away from the fuzzy, psychedelic guitar tones of ’60’s rock, and short, sharp riffs that moved hard rock into a new era. There is a very important connection regarding that Montrose album and the next guy on my evolution list- Eddie Van Halen. Everyone knows how revolutionary that first VH album was, so I don’t need to expound on it, but there is an unsung hero behind the scenes here- the guy who produced Ronnie Montrose’s ground breaking guitar tone five years earlier in 1973- Ted Templeman would return to take it up one more notch with Eddie Van Halen in 1978. The Templeman/Van Halen collaboration would launch a massive global revolution for flash guitar playing and technical expertise in the world of Rock music. RIP to one of the supreme legends.
Kaz Alvis (The Wraith)
I was seven years old when the 1984 album came out and the “Hot For the Teacher,” “Jump”, and “Panama” videos were all over MTV. That record and those videos definitely had a huge impact on me, in many ways. I immediately started taking guitar lessons on a red Fender Strat that, not by coincidence, looked a lot like Eddie’s guitar. RIP Eddie.
Vince Cuneo (Movie Club)
Eddie Van Halen influenced all guitarists even if they didn’t know it. One of my go-to guitar pedals is the same Eddie used (MXR Phase 90). One day at a show, a fan mentioned how he made that pedal famous. Little did I know at the time, he used that pedal to make his guitar sound like planes crashing into a stadium rock show.
Scott Stone (The Jacks)
We are truly saddened to hear of the passing of Eddie Van Halen. He will forever be one of the greats who changed the way people thought of the guitar, especially when it came to constructing a solo. Everyone remembers when they first heard “Eruption,” it absolutely floored me. I then spent months trying to learn it note for note. Having the honor of getting to record at the same studio as him, his legendary presence was felt and will never be forgotten. Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones.
Shaunt Sulahian (Satellite Citi)
Edward Van Halen is the world’s greatest guitar hero. Pushing the limits of technical ability, innovation and style, Eddie single handedly set the standard of what rock guitar playing was for his own generation and the ones that followed. His impact was not confined solely to the mastery of guitar. As a songwriter, Edward’s pop sensibility and song craft propelled his band Van Halen through decades of worldwide, chart topping success, weathering extreme shifts in popular music trends. His impact on rock music cannot be measured. Eddie Van Halen is the sole reason I ever dreamed of playing guitar. Literally millions of people all over the world have found a passion for music through his work. I am grateful to have been one of them. Eddie Van Halen will be loved and celebrated forever.
John 5 (Rob Zombie)
Eddie Van Halen was a modern day Mozart and it is just so sad to see him go. He was so young. He is immortal and will live on forever.
He was an inventor and the greatest guitar player of all time… The thing is, he took guitar to such new places that no one has done before and he was just such an incredible player, And on top of all of that he was an incredible songwriter too.
Anyone who ever picked up a guitar has played a Van Halen riff .
Eddie was like someone we all might never again see the likes of in this world — he was that special.
Thank you for changing the world.