Eddie Van Halen rewrote the rules of Rock & Roll. But how much do you really know about him?
First things first, here are the particulars about his passing.
Rock star Eddie Van Halen died at the age of 65 on Tuesday.
The guitarist and co-founder of the Eighties band Van Halen had been battling throat cancer for over a decade.
He passed away at at St. Johns Hospital in Santa Monica, California with his wife Janie, his son Wolfgang and brother and drummer Alex next to him, according to TMZ. —DailyMail
His son’s touching tribute:
— Wolf Van Halen (@WolfVanHalen) October 6, 2020
As we mark his passing — his contributions to American innovation and culture were inestimable — let us reflect for a moment on how he got here.
By no means did Van Halen take a guilded path to success.
Did you know, for instance, that his trip to America came because his mixed-marriage parents were fleeing to a country where they would be accepted? (His Dad was Dutch, mom was Indonesian and they left Europe for California.)
Did you know that his parents were piss-poor doing janitor and maid work and that they all shared one bed at one point?
Did you know that he was winning piano contests of about 5000 children when he was a pre-teen, even though he didn’t know how to read music?
Did you know that he originally bought a drum kit, but his brother was better at it, so they swapped instruments a drum kit for a guitar?
Did you know how he came to invent (his famous guitar) ‘Frankenstein’? Or that he holds a musical patent? Or that they invented guitar tab as a way to explain what the hell was going on in his songs?
All of that (as well as some awesome playing around on his guitar) are covered in this wonderful interview. It’s somewhat lengthy but SO worth it.
This man is living proof that sometimes it’s the things you DON’T have that do the most to springboard you to success. All of his musical innovations were there to fill up the ‘holes’ in his music from not having the money for effects pedals.
He learned to DIY his guitars. He innovated with amps, was occasionally electrocuted in the process, and learned how to play with the voltage to get the effects he wanted.
The original home-made guitar that made him famous was priceless, and was semi-retired as of 2011. The second one, ‘Frank 2’ was donated to the Smithsonian.
And on top of everything else, he was a kickass performer.
He had the money to live wherever he wanted, and yet this man from a mixed racial heritage was welcomed as a native son to America.
We somehow doubt very much that ‘America is systematically racist’ crap would have flown with him.
God rest his soul and give grace and peace to his family.
Truly, he was an American success story.