Eddie van Halen changed 80’s Rock Guitar, so much that nowadays his guitars are selling at auction for close to a half-million dollars making one of his guitars one of the most expensive guitars in history.
The Loss of Eddie Van Halen still carries a serious weight as we stand a year later without him. His Revolutionary skills at the tapping style of the guitar were what is most often written about and yes The Track “Eruption” announced an innovation, but Eddie was much more than those concepts. He was a True Musician, a songwriter, and his Guitar Playing that built the songs was as unique as the lead guitar included within. According to Brother Alex Eddie’s biggest influence was Eric Clapton and he could play spot on anything Eric ever played. Yet Eddie knew he needed to have his own stamp on the Guitar and that meant becoming what he ultimately became. Another Guitar Legend that Changed the 80’s Rock music scene just by being himself.
If they had never done anything after the 1978 Debut album “Van Halen” it would still stand like a Monolith. I’ve listened to it since its release and it doesn’t sound dated, it’s as vibrant now as it was then. A Power House record due to the songs and the craftsmanship by all, but especially Eddie’s guitar sound and what he chose to put across at exactly the right time.
The songs. “Running with the Devil” is a given. The call to action. I want to look at a few that aren’t talked about quite as much. “Atomic Punk” has always been a favorite. The Phase Grind of Futuristic wastelands recalls the rhythmic approach and Build-up of Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child” but from another part of the Galaxy. Power Chord heaven and a signature hook make the song one that could not have been owned by anyone but Eddie.
Have you seen Junior’s Grades? From the 1980’s “Women and Children First”, “And The Cradle Will Rock” is another Punch in the mouth, perfectly matching a killer dark riff and chorus with a Melodic verse. Juxtaposed Perfection.
Cradle Will Rock Video By Van Halen
There is no way to ignore any track from the Album “1984” Hot for Teacher” Rocks faces off and is just one part of this masterwork. The Riff from Hell. Eddie cover so much territory in under 5 minutes and in a way every aspect of his guitar playing style is distilled into one song. For many MTV was their first exposure and being that video was in heavy rotation it was “School of Van Halen ” not only as a video but you hear everything great guitar-wise that fueled all the original lineup songs and albums.
Video Hot for Teacher Van Halen
Eddie Van Halen also employed Synth on this album and as with Geddy Lee, he made it work in a context where it was not generally not accepted at that moment by fans. It didn’t take long to change their mind. Eddie was a creative force not shackled by any one thing.
He was a musician, it was just that his guitar was the main instrument. He refused to limit himself if he felt it worked for the band. This included bringing in the Van Hagar period.
I was personally at a point in life that I lost interest when that change was made. I have a deep Respect for Sammy Hagar all the way back to the Montrose days. It wasn’t Him that shifted my focus, I was leaning hard into Thrash Metal. It, unfortunately, takes me out of being able to speak to the songs of that Era.
I was not only always impressed how he often was able to make a song Rock, include the right amount of flash and substance fit into the 3 minutes 30-second format.
I was more impressed at what kind of heart he carried for his audience and his musical friends. One of the most impressive things ever was Him Bringing the Black and Yellow Strat and sending it off with Dimebag Darrell by placing it in his coffin. Darrell had expressed wanting a copy of the guitar for his collection but he didn’t live long enough to get that copy, yet after his Tragic death he didn’t get a copy, he got THE guitar as one last show of love and respect. Eddie said of it “Dime was an Original, and deserves the Original”.
The act speaks a million words about the man. Eddie Van Halen changed the world and did it with a smile.