One of the most important and influent guitarist of all times has just left us. This year 2020 by far, and so far, has been one of the years that everybody, including me, has the tendency of ignoring or of thinking of the worst year ever. I guess if somebody told me that saw a Sharknado alive scene with a five-headed shark flying I would tend to believe. What a hell of a year!
Eddie Van Halen wasn’t simply a great guitar player, he was the guitar player, the reference of guitar playing to many who love music and the instrument. His contributions to Metal music guitar playing are beyond understanding even to the millenia kid that disdain and abominate guitar solos and listen to all those so-called Metal music without guitar solos. From where I’m standing, Metal without guitar solos is the same as apple pie without apples. Simple as that. Of course, everybody is entitled to have their own opinions, but don’t call it Metal. Just because. Maybe I’m just an old Metal fan fool.
His legacy to guitar playing and Metal music is immeasurable and I can’t tell where to begin with. Let’s say that in the 1980s eleven in ten Metal albums the guitars had his touch; or it was the tapping – a technique he didn’t come up with, but was the one who made it popular – or the velocity of his flamboyant playing. Yeah, flamboyant is the right word for what he did with his guitar. He was one of the pioneer guitarists to use and abuse of the whammy bar to produce all kinds of noises and musical cataclism. A technique that many still emulate – or try to emulate. It is also a fact that for some time he was one of the fastest guitar players ever not only because he had the dextery to it, but also, and more important, because he started to use major scales on his soloing – remember that in the late 1970s everybody was still stook with the pentatonic scales. A thing that he didn’t come up with either, but he popularized as well.
When I think of Eddie Van Halen I cant help it of remembering 1985’s “Back to the Future” where Michel J. Fox’s character Marty McFly was a huge fan – as many of the audience – and used “Eruption” tunes – or the inspiration of it – three times; in the very first scenes of the film when he and his band are audiotioning for the school battle of bands or the likes; when he threatens his father making him listen to parts of the solo, and when he’s playing in the dance and flips out playing the solo. He said something like this to the jawbroken and dumbfounded crowd “You don’t like it, but your kids are gonna love it.” Hilarious to say the least.
A fun fact about him is that he never accepted the fact of being a Heavy Metal guitarist though his guitar influenced zillions of Metal guitar players throught this sad and lonely and miserable which turned out today to be even more sad and lonely and miserable with his loss. Another fun fact is that history goes that he and his brother Alex exchanged instruments when they were early beginners on the practice. I guess the world has never been so happy with such thing.
This video says it all:
Or the album version: