Eddie Van Halen
He will be remembered as one of the greatest and most influential guitarists in the history of music.
(Photo: Larry Marano/Getty Images)
Let's tell you some facts about Eddie Van Halen, the man, and the legend:
1. He was born on January 26, 1955, in Amsterdam, Netherlands as Edward Lodewijk Van Halen. His middle name was inspired by the classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven.
2. He entered the world of music with the influence of his father who played the clarinet, saxophone, and piano.
3. He's the younger brother of drummer Alex Van Halen.
4. In 1962 his family immigrated to the United States and settled in Pasadena, California.
5. Eddie and Alex started studying piano at the age of six.
6. Although they were educated on classical music, Eddie never learned to read notes and used to play by listening and improvising.
7. He was so good at playing the piano that he won the "Long Beach City College Pianist Competition", for three consecutive years from 1964 to 1967.
8. Eventually when the instrument was not challenging enough for him, he started playing drums which he purchased with his own money, while his brother Alex started playing guitar.
9. When Eddie would leave the house Alex would sneak into his room and play the drums. One day Eddie came home and saw Alex playing a drum solo. Out of frustration after realizing he was not as good as his brother, he decided to switch to guitar when Alex switched to drums.
10. He devoted many hours to playing the guitar while shutting himself in his room and practicing, sometimes walking around with the guitar hanging around his neck at home and playing.
11. Eddie and Alex formed their first band "The Broken Combs" when Eddie was in fourth grade. He said that by then he already realized that he wanted to be a musician.
12. The most influential guitarists on Eddie were Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page. He noted that he learned all of Clapton's solos on "Cream" by heart.
13. "Genesis", the band that would become "Van Halen", was formed by Eddie and Alex in 1972. Later they changed the name to "Mammoth" and two years later they changed the name to "Van Halen".
14. They began to gain an appreciation and an audience in the Los Angeles pub scene, when in 1976 Gene Simmons (Kiss) discovered them and decided to produce a demo tape for them.
15. Simmons passed the tape with a recommendation to Kiss' record company, but they foolishly replied that the band had no chance of succeeding.
16. By the way, Alex and Eddie played in the demo for the song "Christine Sixteen" from Kiss' "Love Gun" album.
17. Eventually in 1977 "Warner" decided to sign them on a recording contract.
18. The debut album "Van Halen" was released in 1978. Already then Eddie's virtuoso abilities were discovered, including in the solo "Eruption" which featured his amazing playing and especially the great technique with finger tapping, which became very popular thanks to him.
19. The album became one of the most successful debut albums, whose impact on the hard rock and heavy metal scene was substantial.
20. In 1984 Eddie Van Helen demonstrated his playing abilities on keyboards with the "MCMLXXXIV (1984))" album, and especially the solo keyboards on the hit "Jump", which became the band's first and only hit to reach the number one on the Billboard Hot 100.
21. The album "MCMLXXXIV (1984)" earned the band a Grammy nomination and only reached number two on the Billboard 200, when it failed to take Michael Jackson's "Thriller" album off the top.
22. Eddie played an amazing guitar solo in Michael Jackson's song "Beat It", from the same album. See here:
23. Eddie and his band managed to conquer a first place on Billboard with their next album - "5150" which was the first album that the band released with the singer Sammy Hagar. The number "5150" refers to the name of Eddie Van Helen's private studio and also to the California law section that allows the arrest of a person suspected of being mentally ill and a danger to the public.
24. The band finally managed to win a Grammy for their 1991 album "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge", which is an acronym for the word "fuck".
25. The sound of the guitar whistling in the opening of the song "Poundcake" from the album was achieved by an electric screwdriver that Eddie Van Halen operated very close to the guitar's pickups. See here:
26. In 2001 Eddie announced that he had cancer of the tongue. A year later he announced that he had recovered after cutting a part of it. He claimed the cancer was due to him holding metal guitar picks in his mouth for years. Later cancer will return, this time in the throat.
27. After he heard in 2004 how Dimebag Darrell admired him, he made sure that one of his guitars (the famous Bumblebee guitar with the stripes in yellow and black) that Dimebag loved, will put in Dimbag's coffin. Eddie intended to make a copy for Dimebag but after his murder, Eddie noted that Dimebag Darrell's playing was so original, that he only deserves the original guitar.
28. In 2006 Eddie's son Wolfgang Van Halen joined "Van Halen". He replaced Michael Anthony playing bass.
29. The term "Brown Sound" was coined by him. The term describes Eddie's unique guitar sound which tried to sound like Alex's snare drum, hot and big. Eddie defined it as a brown sound.
30. Three patents in the field of guitar are registered in Eddie's name. "musical instrument support", "stringed instrument with adjustable string tension control" and "guitar peghead".
31. Eddie and Alex co-wrote the song "Humans Being" with Sami Hagar for the soundtrack to the movie "Twister". In addition, Eddie and Alex wrote the instrumental section "Respect the Wind" for the film.
32. Eddie was a guest on one of the episodes of the series "Two and a Half Men", see here
33. Eddie also participated in Brian May's "Star Fleet" Project.
34. He also co-wrote and even played the song "Evil Eye" from Black Sabbath's "Cross Purposes" album, but Eddie did not receive credit for it due to opposition from Warner Bros. Records.
35. Eddie has released with "Van Helen" 12 studio albums that have sold over 80 million copies, placing the band in 20th place on the list of best-selling artists of all time.
36. During their careers Eddie and the band managed to shoot 13 songs to first place on Billboard.
37. In 2007 the band was inducted into the "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame", with Eddie receiving separate recognition for his guitar work.
38. The band is ranked 7th on VH1's 100 Biggest Hard Rock Bands.
39. Van Helen entered the Guinness Book of Records for the amount paid to her for one performance at the US Festival in 1983. She received $ 1.5 million for an hour-and-a-half performance.
40. In 2007 Eddie was placed in the Guitar World magazine readers' poll in fourth place out of 100 different guitarists.
41. Hs solo piece "Eruption" was selected as the second of the 100 greatest solos of all time by Guitar World magazine.
42. Eddie Van Helen passed away on October 6, 2020, after a long battle with cancer, and is only 65 years old.
43. On November 16, Wolfgang Van Halen - Eddie's son released the song "Distance" under the name "Mammoth WVH". The song was dedicated to his father and the video clip includes exciting family footage of the two.
44. 44. In September 2021 "Red Hot Chili Peppers" released a single called "Eddie" dedicated to Eddie Van Halen. Guitarist John Frusciante commented on his love for Eddie and noted that he really liked guitar players like Eddie because of the way they could make the guitar explode through playing techniques.