The Legacy of Eddie Van Halen


Painted by renowned artist Robert Vargas on Guitar Center’s iconic hollywood location, this mural depicts Halen playing his signature Frankenstrat guitar.

Arya Bhattacharjee, Staff Writer

When someone mentions Rock and Roll, one of the first names to come to mind is none other than one of the greatest guitar players of all time, Eddie Van Halen. With his unfortunate passing away on Oct. 6, 2020 as a result of his many health conditions, and the upcoming hollywood mural to commemorate his legacy and celebrate his birthday, we believe it’s better now than never, to share the fascinating story of Edward Lodewijk Van Halen.

Born on Jan. 26, 1955 in Amsterdam, Halen was born into a family already well associated with music. Starting his musical career on the piano at age 6, he showcased prodigious talent, winning him first place throughout 1964 to 1967 at an annual piano competition held at Long Beach City College. Although his parents hoped Halen would continue the path to become a classical pianist, he found himself drawn towards the world of rock music.

The first instruments that Halen bought were a guitar and a drum kit. Initially, he tried out both instruments, but gave his brother the drum kit after he nailed the solo in Surfaris’ “Wipe out”. This left Eddie Van Halen with the electric guitar, and he practiced it religiously. In an interview with guitar world, Halen stated that his brother would leave the house from 7 a.m. to 3 a.m., and Halen would still be “sitting in the same place, playing guitar”.

Along with his brother Alex, Eddie Van Halen formed his very own band by the name Van Halen. They went on to become one of the greatest rock bands of all time, releasing many hit albums, including “1984,” which went five-times platinum just one year after its release. Other famous hits from Van Halen include its single “Jump” which earned the band a Grammy nomination, as well as the album “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge,” which won the band the 1992 Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance with Vocals. He also co-wrote the guitar solo for the global hit “Beat It” by Micheal Jackson. As he accumulated decades of experience with rock music and became more well known from his hits and collaborations with other famous artists, Eddie Van Halen became noticed nationally, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.

But Eddie Van Halen was not just known for his place in Van Halen; he was a guitarist who had ascended to an entirely different level of playing. He was one of the first guitarists to popularize tapping, a technique that utilizes both hands to play notes instead of picking the strings with one and changing notes with the other, and he created some insanely technical solos utilizing this method, such as the famous “Eruption”. Some innovations in guitar technology that are widely utilized today were created and patented by none other than Eddie Van Halen.

Halen’s unfortunate death has definitely brought a sense of solemnity to the Rock and Roll community. However, the legacy that has been left by him will continue to live on in the hearts of musicians all across the world. In order to commemorate his birthday on Jan. 26, Hollywood has unveiled a beautiful mural painted by Robert Vargas as one final thank you to the brilliant musician. The mark that Eddie Van Halen has left not just on Rock and Roll, but music in general is permanent. As new generations begin to enter the world of music, it should not be a stretch to say that Halen and his innovations will inspire everyone.