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Legendary Guitarist Eddie Van Halen

Eddie Van Halen

Full Name Edward Lodewijk Van Halen
Born January 26, 1955 in Amsterdam, Netherlands
Died October 6, 2020
Age 65 years old
Net Worth $100 million
Social Media Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube

Edward Van Halen was a legendary Dutch-American rock guitarist, known for his work with the iconic band Van Halen. With his exceptional technique and pioneering guitar playing style, Eddie is widely considered one of the greatest and most influential guitarists in rock music history.

Early Life and Childhood Influences

Born in Amsterdam, Eddie Van Halen showed an early aptitude for music, starting piano lessons at age 6. Though classically trained, he grew bored with the structured nature of piano recitals. After seeing older brother Alex‘s drum kit, he became fascinated with the drums and guitar.

At just 12 years old, Eddie got a job as a paperboy to pay for his first drum set. Though drums were his initial instrument, Eddie soon switched to guitar after realizing Alex was the superior drummer. Their father Jan Van Halen, a jazz saxophonist, supported Eddie’s passion for guitar in his early teens.

Some of Eddie‘s biggest influences as a budding guitarist were Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix. He was inspired by their technique, use of feedback and ability to manipulate guitar sound.

Forming Van Halen

After years of practicing and playing local backyard parties together, Eddie and Alex formed their first proper band in 1972 – originally named Genesis, then changing to Mammoth. In 1974, they met flashy frontman David Lee Roth and recruited Michael Anthony on bass, forming the early incarnation of Van Halen.

The band developed a loyal following through constant gigging on the LA club circuit, eventually getting signed to Warner Bros. Records in 1977. Their self-titled debut album Van Halen was released in 1978, instantly showcasing Eddie‘s unique guitar style and establishing him as one of rock’s most exciting new talents.

Eddie‘s Guitar Innovation

Several key techniques characterize Eddie Van Halen‘s guitar playing style:

  • Two-handed tapping – Using both left and right hands on the guitar neck to hammer notes and chords
  • Dive bombs – Rapidly lowering the guitar‘s pitch using the tremolo bar
  • Pinch harmonics – Creating harmonics by squeezing the guitar strings
  • Tremolo picking – Picking individual notes at rapid speed

Combined with effects like echo, phasing, flanging and distortion, Eddie crafted a powerful, unique guitar tone that made his playing instantly recognizable. His live guitar solo "Eruption" dazzled audiences with technical mastery of the electric guitar.

Van Halen‘s Rise to Fame

Van Halen‘s early albums were an immediate commercial success. Their guitar-driven, party-ready hard rock resonated with late 70s audiences. Eddie‘s solos and riffs on tracks like "Ain‘t Talkin‘ Bout Love", "Runnin‘ with the Devil" and "Jamie‘s Cryin‘" became an indelible part of rock music.

The band reached their greatest popularity between 1978-1984, releasing six hit albums. 1984 contained Eddie‘s most mainstream work, including the guitar-synth driven #1 single "Jump", earning them their first Grammy nomination.

Van Halen broke attendance records on their headlining 1984 tour. Eddie‘s live showmanship, blazing solos and onstage persona cemented him as a legendary guitar god. His playing ability, combined with David Lee Roth‘s bravado, made Van Halen one of the most successful live acts of the era.

Awards and Accolades

Over his career, Eddie won a number of notable awards:

  • Named #1 guitarist of all time by Guitar World in 2012
  • Rock Walk Hall of Fame inductee in 2007
  • Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitarists (ranked #8)
  • Multiple Guinness World Records related to album sales

Guitar Endorsements

Eddie‘s fame also led to partnerships with guitar brands who designed custom instruments to his preferences:

  • Kramer "5150" signature guitar series
  • Ernie Ball/Music Man signature guitars
  • Peavey 5150 Amps and Wolfgang guitars
  • Fender Stratocaster replicas of his iconic "Frankenstrat" guitar

Battling Cancer and Personal Issues

Behind the scenes, Eddie privately battled throat cancer and chronic joint pain affecting his guitar playing. He underwent surgery in the early 2000s, then was declared cancer-free in 2007. His cancer resurfaced in 2019 before tragically taking his life in 2020.

Eddie also struggled at times with alcoholism and substance abuse. He completed rehab stints in 2007 and 2019. However, his musical talent never faltered even through physical and personal troubles.

Legacy as a Guitar Virtuoso

Eddie Van Halen passed away on October 6, 2020 at age 65, leaving behind his wife Janie and son Wolfgang. His unexpected death was mourned by fans and fellow musicians worldwide. The rock community praised his lasting influence on guitar music.

With his technical mastery and endless creativity, Eddie inspired generations of guitarists. His signature techniques opened up new possibilities for the electric guitar. Both shred guitarists and mainstream rock acts regard Eddie as a prime musical innovator.

Though Eddie was initially criticized by some as being a purely technical "backyard" player, his musicality developed substantially over time. Later Van Halen albums showed more songwriting maturity and melodic sensibility in Eddie‘s playing.

There‘s no denying Eddie Van Halen‘s permanent impact on rock music. His unique sound and playing style made him a true guitar legend, leaving an indelible influence on the history of the electric guitar.