A man as iconic as his music
"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 Van Halen, 2015
For better or for worse, much of the 'rockstar attitude' that we see in today's bands come from the iconic Eddie Van Halen – a man who stole the spotlight from rock's ostentatious gatekeepers for the majority of 5 decades. The artiste passed away on October 6, after a long battle with lung cancer.
Inspired by Eric Clapton, Eddie started perfecting his chops as a guitarist in his early teens. "I loved Eric Clapton but sound nothing like him," said the musician in an interview with CNN.
With his brother Alex, the musician would form the iconic Van Halen, producing hits like Jamie's Crying, Beautiful Girls, Unchained, Mean Street and So this is Love. However, the band's groundbreaking success came with the chart-topping Jump, made with an uncharacteristic pop-sounding synthesizer as the riff. There was no party in 1984 that did not play and dance along to Jump.
Eddie's roaring riffs and solos would make their way into many pop hits such as Michael Jackson's Thriller and Nicolette Larson's Can't Get Away From You. Throughout four turbulent decades of platinum albums, chalk-full stadium gigs, Eddie played and partied like no other.
The artistes' signature guitar, the Frankenstrat, is as iconic as the songs that Van Halen created – in fiery performances all over the world to recording sessions – it was his trusted friend. The two- handed tapping technique, even though Van Halen did not invent it by any means, is regarded widely as being perfected by him.
"I think I got the idea of tapping watching Jimmy Page do his "Heartbreaker" solo back in 1971. He was doing a pull-off to an open string, and I thought wait a minute, open string ... pull off. I can do that, but what if I use my finger as the nut and move it around? I just kind of took it and ran with it", he had said in an interview with Guitar World.
Eddie's death was a shock to the world, more so the musical community that he bedazzled over the years, and the fans who grew up listening to him. It is a loss for every music lover who never got the chance to see the guitar god rock his Frankenstrat.