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Eddie Van Halen-All about the Greatest Rock Guitarist…

In loving memory of the great guitarist...

History of Eddie Van Halen: full biography and facts

Eddie Van Halen is definitely the greatest guitarist of his generation. This became clear to most of the audience and his fellow guitarists alike with the release of the band's debut album of the same name, Van Halen (1978). The animal energy and the variety of tones of the guitar sound - for the audience of that time it was something like a color TV!

Eddie Van Halen is definitely the greatest guitarist of his generation.
Eddie Van Halen

A skinny kid with a strange haircut - with his guitar he was making music that no one had heard before...

Childhood, introduction to music...

Eddie Van Halen is one of the few guitarists who has built a strong bridge between the rock styles of the 70's and heavy metal of the 80's. All this led his band Van Halen to worldwide success! But about that later...

Eddie Van Halen was born in the Netherlands in 1955. His father played the saxophone and clarinet professionally. Not surprisingly, Eddie and his older brother Alex mastered the piano at a young age. It was his love of classical music and knowledge of theory that helped Van Halen master the legendary technique of playing guitar with the fingers of both hands! You could say that harmonic ideas borrowed from the keyboards found new expression in the electric guitar.

Van Halen as a young man.
Van Halen as a young man.

Curiously enough, after winning the city's pianist competition, Eddie was very surprised... The judges noted that he had a rather interesting interpretation of a classical piece. Then Eddie remarked, "What? I thought I was playing it right!"

Career and success with Van Halen!

Van Halen Band
Van Halen Band

In 1962 the family moved to the States. That's when Eddie and Alex discovered rock music!

"Our idols were Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton! Especially Clapton..." - Eddie later recalled.

The band Mammoth was founded by the brothers when they were in high school. It is worth noting that Eddie sang as well as he played! David Lee Roth joined the band because Eddie didn't really want to combine his duties...

So, playing in the local clubs Mammoth attracted the attention of Gene Simmons himself - one of the founders of Kiss! He financed the guys' early demo recording, which, in its turn, attracted the attention of producer Ted Templeman. Soon a contract was signed.

A still from the concert of the band...
A still from the concert of the band...

The band changed its name to Van Halen and quickly became a major idol of the Los Angeles music scene. In 1978 they released their first album of the same name, which was recognized as one of the best debuts in rock history! The gem of the release was the legendary "Eruption": power chords, power, clarity... The composition is vivid proof that by the age of 20 Eddie had already developed his unique style.

Already by the beginning of the 80's the band was one of the most commercially successful rock projects of that time! The album with the laconic title "1984" became five times platinum! Its lead single, "Jump", won a Grammy Award and became the band's first and only pop hit...

In 2019, Van Halen ranked 20th on the "Best Selling Artists" list: overall, the band's records sold 80 million copies!

Eddie Van Halen
Eddie Van Halen

In 2007 Eddie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! Individually, he received tremendous recognition for his music...

Eddie Van Halen and Guitars

Being at the peak of his popularity Eddie never stopped searching for new means of musical expression. And often it was not only about music, but also... about his guitars! Van Halen modified his instruments, and so skillfully, as if he were an exclusive designer... So, by means of early experiments, in 1974 Eddie introduced to the public his legendary "Frankenstein"! He moved the sound pickup (humbucker) from a Gibson guitar to a Fender Stratocaster body. And the famous stripes, as a result, became his trademark signature!

Van Halen poses with his "Frankenstein guitar" on display at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in 2015
Van Halen poses with his "Frankenstein guitar" on display at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in 2015

Eddie continued to design guitars throughout his career. He has had the opportunity to work with such well-known manufacturers as Music Man, Charvel, and Fender.

The secret of The brown sound...

Van Halen's sound was loud and distorted, but at the same time clear and focused... This unique sound is commonly referred to as "brown" for its sense of organic warmth! And how many generations of guitarists have been inspired by it...

For a long time the "brown sound" was attributed to Eddie Van Halen. And he himself often said: "That sound... It's a special tone, a feeling that I'm constantly working on..."

In 2015, however, Eddie surprised many of his fans and colleagues with the following statement:

"Actually, the expression 'brown sound' refers to the snare drum that my brother always played... It's a very organic sound. And that 'brown sound' wasn't mine. It was Alex's sound..."

Alex Van Halen
Alex Van Halen is an American drummer and songwriter of Dutch descent. Founder and permanent member of the band Van Halen. Elder brother of Edward Van Halen.

Personal life

Van Halen met his first wife, actress Valerie Bertinelli, at a concert in Shreveport, Louisiana. A year later they married and had a son Wolfgang. In 2005, Bertinelli filed for divorce, which was finalized in 2007.

Eddie and Valerie and their mutual son...
Eddie and Valerie and their mutual son...

A year later Eddie proposed to Janie Liszewski, an actress who was a Van Halen publicist at the time. They were married in 2009 at his Studio City estate! His son Wolfgang and ex-wife Bertinelli were present at the wedding.

The Death of a Legend...

Eddie had developed bad habits since he was 12 years old... However, they were not the cause of his death, but... his devotion to his work.

In 2007, Eddie Van Halen underwent a course of rehabilitation. As the guitarist himself claimed in his later interviews, he had given up alcohol completely since 2008.

Earlier, in 2000, Eddie had been diagnosed with a terrible cancer of the tongue... In a subsequent operation, about a third of his tongue was removed. In 2002, Van Halen seemed to have conquered the terrible disease. But he hadn't...

In 2019, Van Halen was hospitalized. The musician had been battling throat cancer for the previous five years... One of the most legendary guitarists of our time died on October 6, 2020, at the age of 65...

Even in his lifetime, Eddie said:

"My cancer was not a consequence of smoking. At concerts I used to hold metal picks in my mouth all the time - brass and copper. And I held them in the very place where I got tongue cancer... Yes, I loved cigarettes! But my lungs are completely clean. That's just my theory, but the doctors don't rule it out either..."

Eddie Van Halen
Eddie Van Halen

In 2015 Rolling Stone magazine named Van Halen one of the greatest guitarists of all time. But his talent lay not only in his musical virtuosity, but also in his innovative...

Eddie Van Halen's best compositions

In the end, we offer to enjoy the best works of Van Halen and his band...

Van Halen Eruption Guitar Solo

Jump (1984)

Jamie's Cryin' (1978)

 

Beautiful Girls (1979)

Mean Street (1981)

So This Is Love (1981)

So This Is Love (1981) - Live

Little Guitars (1982)

Performing with Michael Jackson - Beat It

Finish What Ya Started (1988)

Poundcake (1991)

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