Van Halen died at 65 of cancer

  • I play guitar and this guy is one of the main reasons. In my top 3 favorite players playing in one of my top 5 bands.


    He is also aside from Hendrix the most influential guitar player of all time. Probably above Hendrix if looking at it practically.

  • I love CCR, daniel! And Eddie Van Halen truly was legendary, with his chords and riffs building in exciting fashion, into magnificent crescendos. Very sad that he battled cancer for so long and is now gone.

  • I feel today is as good as any to celebrate why he was in the top 2 most influential guitarists of all time. I am not saying best because there are so many variables that could decide that.


    However, in terms of influence on the instrument, he was massive. For better and for worse I might add.


    Influence 1: The 1970s saw the evolution of the "guitar god". No longer was the guitarist just another member of the band, he was the musical driving force for the lisitner. During this time, the idea of the "riff" really took hold and some of the greatest riffmakers of all-time emerged (Jimmy Page, Ritchie Blackmore, Tommy Iommi, etc.)


    However, soloing was still in its infancy. All the guitarists above could solo and offered some iconic guitar solos that are still amazing today. However, they were not neccesarily virtuostic. Blackmore was close, while Brian May was also pushing towards the gutar solo as the melodic peice built on outright technique.


    What Van Halen did was combined the two. He had the great riffage of those icons, but he also took the growing idea of virtuostic guitar music started by Jimi Hendrix and took it to the extreme. Whan Van Halen was released in 1977, with Eruption on it, the face of guitar changed. His playing signalled the move to the flashy, ultra-melodic, mega technical guitar playing that defined the 1980s. Now, during that decade some would do it well (Randy Rhoads for one, who died in 1982) and most did it poorly. Still, every rock guitarist that plays even today can trace their lineage back to that 1977 album. Van Halen did not create the techniques (tapping, tremolo picking, shredding, sweep picking) but he brought them to the mainstream and orchestrated them as melodic pieces.


    His background in classical piano allowed him to see the fretboard in a way few others have. That's why he's called the Mozart of rock. This allowed him to create solos leveraging his virtuoso techniques that sound orchestral and non-linear.


    Influence 2: When starting out, like most young bands, Van Halen had no money. He was unable to afford a good guitar and was also annoyed that no guitar could deliver the sound he wanted. So, he decided to build one. The Frankenstrat guitar he created essentially changed the guitar industry forever. I won't get into the technical details, but his guitar modding is the reason the super strat guitar exists. He started an idea that led to Ibanez, Jackson, Dean, Kramer, and many names I am forgetting to emerge as major guitar companies. It also led to the likes of Fender making hot versions of their classic Strat.


    Not only that, Van Halen wanted what's called a floating bridge system, which essentially allows him to do flashy guitar moves without snapping strings or de-tuning (in theory). He developed a system that would allow the bridge to float. This led to him working with Floyd Rose and helping to develop the world-famos Floyd Rose trem system, which has been used on literally millions of guitars since. Van Halen long contested he came up with many of the ideas that led to the creation of the system, but Rose filed a patent claiming sole creatorship.


    It is worth noting Van Halen also owns three guitar-related patents. Furthermore, he invented a D-Tuna system with a guitar company (I think Music Man but may be wrong) that allows him to tune down to drop D by essentially flicking a switch instantly.

  • Magnificent post on his music, serafina . I’d guess that Van Halen also influenced your husband’s music?

    You are correct, Rice. In fact, he was out of the house when he texted me the news. I don't know Van Halen beyond his name, but he surely must have had an influence on my husband if he felt like sharing the news with me as soon as possible. On the TMZ article I linked in the original post, it is also stated that he did the guitar solo piece in Michael Jackson's Beat It. I loved MJ's music and I am well familiar with that guitar, but I didn't know it was Van Halen playing.


  • You are correct, Rice. In fact, he was out of the house when he texted me the news. I don't know Van Halen beyond his name, but he surely must have had an influence on my husband if he felt like sharing the news with me as soon as possible. On the TMZ article I linked in the original post, it is also stated that he did the guitar solo piece in Michael Jackson's Beat It. I loved MJ's music and I am well familiar with that guitar, but I didn't know it was Van Halen playing.


    Not only did he do the solo, he did it in two takes. Plugged in, played twice through improvisation on the spot and left the studio. During that 30 minutes, he told Quincy Jones that the chord structure of the song was all wrong. Jones listened and changed it. Arranging a song, as Van Halen did, is enough to get a songwriting credt. However, he refused having any credit on the song beyond the solo, and also didn't charge anything to provide that solo.


    This appearance also pissed off David Lee Roth, the singer in Van Halen, and was the beginning of the end of their relationship that resulted in him leaving in 1985.


    Another fun fact about that song and in fact the whole Thriller album is the many of the musicans on the record are from the band Toto.

  • I know a lot more about Van Helen than i did before, so thanks Semigoodlooking

    And let's not forget Gary Moore!

  • You’ve caught that well, Splinter. “Eruption” was literally a warm up exercise EVH used to do in the mid 70s. The producer heard it and insisted it would be on the first album in 77. Van Halen did not get why that track would be so interesting considering it was just an exercise. In the end, “Eruption” became perhaps the most famous musical guitar track of all time.


    The extended live solo above is a combination of all musical interludes from Van Halen’s earlier records. It is not a song but rather a collection of guitar parts he would play live while the singer (David Lee Roth and later Sammy Hagar) took a rest.


    Incidentally, that guitar in the video is the one I discussed previously.


    There are some other examples of famous warm ups. When Randy Rhoads auditioned to join Ozzy Osborne’s solo band, he began by doing his regular warm up routine. Ozzy was impressed enough just by the warm up that he hired him.

  • And as mentioned, he also invented the D-Tuna, which is patented by his EVH guitar brand. This is a significant invention and it would be even more so if it was available on other brands. Many people may not know that most heavy metal and a lot of hard rock is not played in the standard E A D G B E tuning. For a lot of these songs, the guitarists would d tune the thick first e string so the tuning would be D A D G B E. If you are wondering why, it simply produces a darker and heavier sound.


    Doing so is not especially hard but does require having a ear, an electronic tuner, and fiddling with the machine head (tuning peg). For guitarists who maybe switch from standard to d tuned songs, it is a hassle. Van Halen’s D Tuna product allows the guitar to be de tuned and brought back to standard by essentially pushing a button.


    As I say, he also had at least a major role in inventing the Floyd Rose floating trem system. This is also known as the whammy bar. In the image below you can see the D Tuna in red and the black bridge of the Floyd Rose.