Eddie Van Halen, the founder of the hard rock band Van Halen, passed away Tuesday of cancer at the age of 65.
Born Edward Van Halen on January 26, 1955, in the Netherlands, he moved with his family to California in the early 1960s. While growing up in Pasadena, California, Eddie and Alex Van Halen took classical piano lessons, playing mostly improvised classical, and Eddie, in particular, proved to be an early musical standout. As teenagers, the brothers switched instruments, Eddie to guitar and Alex to drums, leaving Classical music behind and spearheading a rock band called Mammoth.
He formed Van Halen in 1974 with his brother Alex. Eddie’s quick-fingered guitar riffs and David Lee Roth’s onstage antics caught the attention of KISS guitarist Gene Simmons in 1977.
Simmons discovered Van Halen at a local club in 1977 and financed and recorded the band’s first recording session. Not long afterwards, Eddie Van Halen and his band Van Halen signed a record deal with Warner Brothers, and in 1978, the band put out its self-titled debut album, which featured the hit “Runnin’ With the Devil.”
The combination of Eddie’s incredible guitar riffs and Roth’s vocal antics, launched the album to platinum status within six months of its release.
Some Van Halen’s most-known songs include “Jump” and “Panama” on the 1984 album “1984”. “Runnin’ With the Devil” and “Erupon 1978’s “Van Halen”.
The album “1984” also showcased the now classic mega-hit “Hot For Teacher”. The videos for “Jump”, “Panama”, “Hot For Teacher,” each lit up MTV.
During his time in the industry, Eddie Van Halen teamed up with Michael Jackson for the guitar solo in Jackson’s hit song “Beat it”, and also welcomed a new frontman in 1985, by the name of Sammy Hagar.
If I took the time to list all of Van Halen’s hits through the years, we’d be here all day. When people discuss the greatest guitarist in Rock history the two names that are seemingly always in the conversation are Slash, Van Halen, Jimi Hendrix, Allen Collins, among others.
It’s safe to say that Mr. Eddie Van Halen has cemented his place in Rock and Roll history.
Rest In Peace, Eddie, we love you brother.