In Memoriam: Remembering Eddie Van Halen

by The Cowl Editor on October 29, 2020

Arts & Entertainment

Legendary Guitarist Passes Away at 65 from Lung Cancer

by Daniel O’Neill ’21 A&E Staff

Black and white photograph Eddie Van Halen playing guitar

On Tuesday, Oct. 6, Eddie Van Halen passed away at the age of 65 from cancer. His god-like guitar riffs made him one of the most important and respected guitarists of all time. His band, Van Halen, is often considered to be one of the greatest rock groups of all time. His passing is a major blow to the music industry and to fans around the world.

Eddie Van Halen is also well known among his peers for his two-handed tapping of the guitar’s fretboard. He utilized this technique most notably in hit songs like “Eruption,” “Hot for Teacher,” and Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.” His band, Van Halen, was formed in 1972 in Pasadena, CA. Originally, the band was named Mammoth, but eventually changed to the name Van Halen, since the band was the brainchild of both of the Van Halen brothers. Under their new name, the band started playing clubs and bars throughout the Pasadena area and made a name for themselves locally.

As the band grew, so did Eddie Van Halen. Van Halen released its self-titled debut album, which rose to No. 19 on the Billboard 200. From there on, the band started touring and releasing more albums. In their album 1984, Eddie Van Halen debuted his masterful finger-tapping technique in “Hot for Teacher,” and the band got their first and only No. 1 single, “Jump.” Van Halen took the music industry by storm, creating a harder and louder rock and roll sound than previous legends like Jimmy Page.

Countless members of the music industry paid tribute to the passed guitar legend on social media. Friends of Eddie Van Halen, the thrash metal band Metallica, tweeted,

“We are enormously saddened to hear about the untimely passing of Eddie Van Halen. We considered him an inspiration, an idol, and after spending a summer together on the road in ’88, a friend. Sending love to Alex, @wolfvanhalen & everyone in the greater VH family.” Other legends from that era including Nikki Sixx, Gene Simmons, Steven Tyler, and AC/DC all shared their thoughts and feelings about the passing of a legend in music history, a friend, and contemporary of their individual crafts.

Eddie Van Halen’s legacy will be one that lasts for decades to come. His impact not only on rock and roll, but also the music industry as a whole was immense. Listeners today will find the hard-driving guitar style he popularized just as energetic and lively as it was in the 1980s. The impact Eddie Van Halen had on the world of music can be seen in songs like “Jump” and “Panama,” which are widely recognized for their catchy pop feel despite being driven by rock and roll forces. The pure speed and energy that Van Halen exerted through his guitar influenced rock, metal, and even blues guitarists that came after him. The world will truly miss the glamorous excitement that Eddie Van Halen brought to music.