On October 6, 2020, Eddie Van Halen, the shredding legend himself, walked off the stage of life after 65 years of showing the world all that he can do. He fought a lengthy battle with throat cancer, and he tragically succumbed to it.
Eddie Van Halen was born on January 26, 1955 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. In 1972, he founded the classic rock band Van Halen with his brother Alex. This band was known for lots of awesome chart-topping killer songs like “Jump” and “Too Hot For Teacher”. Eddie Van Halen made his presence known through his unique styles of playing. He popularized a style called “two-hand tapping”, which involves playing both left and right hands on the guitar neck. He even knew how to play the keyboards, and that’s evident in the song “Jump”, which is well known for its prominent synthesizer solo. Most importantly, he could do all this without reading music.
Apart from Van Halen, Eddie worked on lots of different collaborations with other artists. He played the guitar solo for Michael Jackson’s legendary classic “Beat It”. During a session with legendary rock band KISS in 1977, Eddie played on a few demos that impressed the band, but those demos were later released in 2017.
In 1983, he worked with Queen guitarist Brian May on a 3-song EP (extended play) called Star Fleet Project. This EP had a cover of the TV show Star Fleet‘s theme song, an old Brian May song titled “Let Me Out”, and “Blues Breaker”, an original tune. He also played in I Never Said Goodbye, a solo album written by Sammy Hagar (1987), who would later sing for Van Halen. Another famous collaboration was when he played a legendary, searing guitar solo for the Black Sabbath song “Evil Eye” in 1994.
Last but not least, he’s well known for his life story and how he rose up to fame from nothing. During a 2015 event at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, Eddie described his background. “We came here with approximately $50 and a piano, and we didn’t speak the language. Now look where we are. If that’s not the American dream, what is?”
Eddie inspired millions of guitarists to rise to fame and try a relatively unpopular style, which he popularized. He brought the love of music to lots of musicians and got them into starting their own rock bands, regardless of the sub genre. He had the perfect image that lots of other people wanted to emulate. Lastly, his life story is a strong reminder to musicians all over the world to go after our dreams and work for them. Regardless of where anyone starts in life, they can all get to the same destination of success. He’ll be sorely missed, but the world knows that he’s somewhere out there in a musical heaven jamming out with the likes of Cliff Burton and Neil Peart.