Guitarist/songwriter Eddie Van Halen died this week of cancer. He was 65.
Some clips from Rolling Stone Magazine:
Eddie confounded rock fans with what became known as “finger tapping,” playing the guitar with two hands, kind of like a piano.r songs. The approach was so revolutionary that Alex (Van Halen) encouraged him to play gigs with his back to audiences so aspiring ax men wouldn’t steal it before the band had a record deal.
A constant tinkerer, Eddie always sought ways to modify his instruments for maximum impact; he’d whip out sandpaper and saws to customize them in ways to make the sounds in his head. His most famous guitar was known as the “Frankenstrat” or “Frankenstein” because of the way he built it himself from a $50 Charvel body and an $80 neck. He had the audacity of affixing it with a humbucking pickup, which creates a fatter sound and is typically found on Gibson electrics, like Les Paul’s.
“Nobody taught me how to do guitar work: I learned by trial and error,” he told Guitar Player. “I have messed up a lot of good guitars that way, but now I know what I’m doing, and I can do whatever I want to get them the way I want them. I hate store-bought, off-the-rack guitars.”
Van Halen made heavy metal you could dance to. Although David Lee Roth deservedly gets a lot of attention for his Vaudevillian swagger, it was Eddie who supplied the soundtrack with elastic riffs that boogied as much as they slammed and a carefree, fluid approach to soloing that felt airy and light.
Released in 1978, this was the band’s first single.
Trivia: Peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard albums chart, 1984 by the band was held back only by Michael Jackson’s Thriller, whose iconic “Beat It” just happened to feature a guitar solo from Eddie Van Halen.
Eddie Van Halen said he was “bummed” their first releases was “somebody else’s tune.”
It was the debut recording for a British Invasion group in 1964. From ABC-TV’s “Shindig.”