On Tuesday, October 6, 2020, 65-year-old Eddie Van Halen passed away from a long struggle with throat cancer. His son Wolfgang stated, “He was the best father I could ever ask for. Every moment I’ve shared with him on and off stage was a gift. My heart is broken, and I don’t think I’ll ever fully recover from this loss. I love you so much, Pop.”
Not just the guitar world, but the universe, has lost an amazingly talented guitarist, songwriter and innovator. He was our Da Vinci, Van Gogh, Segovia who unknowingly changed the sound of music forever. As a confirmation of his impact, music stores like Guitar Center, Sweetwater, Sam Ash have seen a huge increase in sales of EVH branded guitar products. Guitar goodies like EVH effects pedals, amps, pick-ups are now on back order. In fact, the world has been reawakened to Eddie’s music since his death as it has been reported that Van Halen streams have gone up an astonishing 1,300%!
As a teenager in the late ‘70s I saw firsthand what Eddie did for all of us young guitarists. A shear tsunami engulfed the guitar community worldwide with his alarming two-handed technique and reckless, spirited solos with pinpoint accuracy. To this day a smile comes to my face when I think of those candy-striped patterns on his guitars; first white & black, then yellow and black then to the iconic red, black & white striped Kramers. When I hear early Van Halen it takes me back to my high school days and my band, REIGN, as we attempted to play “You Really Got Me,” “Runnin’ With The Devil,” “Dance The Night Away,” “Outta Love Again,” “Unchained,” “Pretty Woman” and others for bars and dances.
His tone, sounds and guitars gave us all a green light to modify our own guitars to get that so-called “Brown Tone.” Yes, we were all very dangerous with a router, spray cans and Floyd Rose locking tremolos. It was a time of unbridle freedom from the stock norm Gibson and Fender guitars. Who wanted stock––No Way! “I’m going to build my own guitar with pick-ups of my choosing and a smooth maple neck.” Oh yes, none of those closet queen guitars from 1958; we wanted custom everything. Yes, Eddie made it okay for the world not to except mediocre stock guitars, and man I miss those days of unbridle guitar passion! All I can say is the legacy Eddie leaves behind is far greater than the mortality of the man himself!
Below are some quotes from my Heavy Friends to sum up the loss.
Jeff Watson (Night Ranger)
“The passing of EVH was a life shattering occurrence, felt around the globe. I was lucky enough to consider Edward a friend, as well as a fellow guitarist, and we had many fun and amazing times together over the last forty-something years.
One memory stands out, as I love to remember his childlike excitement about anything that he was interested in, it was contagious. So, when Ed was working with Sammy on a Hagar album up here at ‘The Plant’ in Sausalito, I dropped by to chat and see how it was going. They offered a beer and to listen to a track, but I had a goat in my sports car (as we had Pygmy Goats here at my place to clear the property, and I was bringing him home from the vets’. I mentioned that I had a goat outside, and Ed got all excited! “What year? Which engine?” He thought I had a Pontiac GTO (known to us car lads as a ‘Goat’) and couldn’t wait to come out and see it. So, he and I walked outside and had the biggest laugh with this little goat in the passenger seat of my sports car. We still popped the hood, screamed around the block a bit, and his smile, laugh and enthusiasm were SO contagious that I’m smiling through the memory as I type this.
There’s never been, nor can I imagine ever will be again, a guitarist, writer, performer or friend like Edward Van Halen.”
"Ed was the King. He changed the world. A sweet, kind, and generous man who brought joy to hundreds of millions around the world. He changed my life and gave me inspiration like no other. He will be missed."
Steve Morse (Deep Purple)
“Eddie was most well-known for his fiery solos, but I thought his rhythm playing and the ideas he wrote into his tunes were just as impressive. Listen to the technique on "Dance the Night Away" for example, the sliding, different attack on different chords, and of course, the tapping harmonics on the triads. You can take apart almost every song that way and hear great imagination and musicality in his parts.”
Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal (Guns N’ Roses)
"Eddie was the gamechanger. His 'brown sound' guitar tone, speed-shuffle rhythms, the originality of his phrasing, the guitar's role and delivery in songs and on albums, his stage presence - no other guitarist was ever as innovative in so many ways. He inspired generations of guitarists and bands and raised the bar for all. He pioneered modern guitar playing. For me, it was hearing the intro to ‘Mean Street’ at age 12, it truly changed my world. Eddie was one-of-a-kind, and we're all blessed to have experienced his magic. Sending my deepest sympathies and lots of love to the Van Halen family and loved ones..."
"So sad to hear EVH passed, his infectious smile lit up the world. He taught us to be reckless but precise, he was the biggest guitar god that seemed like the guy next-door. He made the impossible seem possible. They'll never be another. EVH RIP!"
Hal Lindes (Dire Straits)
“Nothing short of a heartbreaking day hearing the tragic news of losing Eddie Van Halen. As big as the sonic eruption was that EVH created, an equally massive hole of silent sadness now fills the air with the virtuoso’s passing. From his infectiously magic grin to the impossibly high summit of his musical prowess, EVH’s giant rock footsteps will forever be unfilled. Remember the magical moments, share some love, and play some Van Halen vinyl records turned up real loud.”
Chris Haskett (The Rollins Band)
“One of the unique qualities of Edward Van Halen's guitar playing that rarely seems to get a mention (perhaps because it's so hard to describe!) is how ecstatic it is. Like the way a dog runs after it's been indoors all day. Even when it's heavy or slow, you can never describe it as ponderous. It's always deft. Van Halen as a group had the rare ability to actually SWING like a big band. And you also hear it in his solos. They dance. There's a delightful whimsicality in how they gearshift: 16th (32! 64th!) notes to quarter note triplets and back into a divebomb ending on a blues riff. Like Charlie Christian, Chuck Berry and Jimi Hendrix, he broadened everybody's horizon for what an electric guitar could do. But that Dionysian, lyrical quality is unique to him."
Brian Tarquin is an established top rate composer/guitarist. He has won 3 Emmy's and has been nominated for an Emmy 6 times. In 2019 Tarquin received a Global Music Gold Award for his release Orlando in Heaven for “Best Album.” Tarquin received “Best Album of the Year” nominations from the Independent Music Awards for his releases Guitars for Wounded Warriors, Orlando in Heaven, and Guitars for Veterans. These releases featured, Steve Morse, Larry Coryell, Mike Stern, Billy Sheehan, Gary Hoey, Bumblefoot (Guns N’ Roses), Reb Beach (Whitesnake), Hal Lindes (Dire Straits), Chris Poland (Megadeth) and Chuck Loeb (FourPlay). In 2006 SESAC honored him with the Network Television Performance Award. Tarquin has graced the Top Billboard Charts on Instinct Records, followed by several solo jazz albums, which charted Top 10 at Smooth Jazz Radio R&R and Gavin charts. Brian has appeared on 38 releases, selling over 140,000 records in his career.