Edward Lodewijk Van Halen
January 26, 1955 – October 6, 2020
On Tuesday, October 6, 2020, the world of music suffered a huge loss. Innovator, pioneer and all-around guitar wizard and virtuoso, Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, aka Eddie Van Halen, passed away after an arduous battle with throat cancer. Often imitated but never duplicated, Eddie Van Halen blazed a trail in the late seventies with his guitar heroics that people to this day are still trying to catch up to.
Starting with the track Eruption from Van Halen’s blistering 1978 debut, guitarists and listeners alike from all around the world collectively dropped their jaws in complete shock and awe at this marvelous and majestic new sound. Not since Jimi Hendrix had a guitarist absolutely changed the game of guitar playing and chartered a new course. Incorporating elements of classical music into a blues-based rock sound, it was a marriage that was equal parts alien and otherworldly.
I was very fortunate to have seen the man perform live on what would turn out to be his last tour with Van Halen. I was in the fifth row center. And hearing one stone-cold classic one after another after another was an absolute thrill. But my all-time favorite part—and the definite highlight of the show for me—was Eddie’s solo spotlight. Seeing his sonic guitar wizardry so close and in person was an absolute spine-chilling, goose-bump-inducing moment. I get chills thinking about it even now. And even more so since his untimely passing.
Eddie Van Halen may be gone, but his music and legacy will live on forever. So, Bottoms Up! and Happy Trails to you, King Edward. Gone but never forgotten.