Separate names with a comma.
Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Mike M, Oct 6, 2020.
Shocking and sad news.
65? man, that's way to early
"We're told in the last 72 hours, Eddie's ongoing health battle went massively downhill -- doctors discovered his lung cancer had moved to his brain as well as other organs.
As you know, Eddie has been battling cancer for well over a decade. Our sources say he's been in and out of the hospital over the past year -- including last November for intestinal issues -- and recently underwent a round of chemo."
What the heck is that thing? Looks like a boiler?
I was a huge fan, saw them twice, he was the focus of the band for me. My then GF even said after a concert, "Eddie's the one I want." I heard some of the other girls in school utter the same thing. Name another single instrumentalist since Paganini, who could stir the loins of the farer sex, without uttering a syllable? I can't think of one. There is merit, that he was possibly the greatest guitarist, maybe even instrumentalist of our time.
He’s in rare company but I think Hendrix could too, by all accounts.
Like a lot of others here, I'm one who probably doesn't count EVH as an influence (as my playing is nothing like his), but certainly as an inspiration.
I discovered Van Halen in my junior year of high school, when through a combination of getting serious about guitar, reading lots of guitar mags, digging into the guitar "canon", owning very few CD's (and no other means of listening to music other than the radio) and generally developing an obsession over any new interest, I listened to VH almost exclusively. Like any other reasonable guitar-playing teenage boy in the situation, I walked around in a shred-induced haze and drew pictures of striped guitars everywhere.
A few thoughts:
- One article I read about EVH back in the day made a point of one of the main things he brought to guitar-playing being fun. Aside from his technical ability, he was really different from the brooding, dark artiste figure a lot of guitarists up to that point painted. This dude loved every minute of what he did and he showed it. That always stuck with me.
- EVH's solos were great, obviously, but what did it for me was more the rhythm riffs interspersed with those crazy fills. That's where the fun is for me.
- If one were to make a Mt. Rushmore of guitarists, EVH would have to be on it, along with Hendrix. The other two spots would be up for grabs, and there are many viable choices that you could argue for, but those two are pretty much guaranteed. That tells you something right there.
- EVH is probably the last guitarist that non-guitarists recognized as a guitarist (and not as a singer, frontman, overall celebrity, etc.) with the possible exception of Slash (and no offense to Slash, but without the hair and the hat I think his recognizability among civilians goes way down). Again, a sign of his stature.
- If you're a "tone is in the hands" type, EVH is probably a god there, too. I'm not saying that only his particular hands could make that tone, but his tone really is one that relies on one's hands. It's a matter of cranking up and using your hands to simultaneously tame and unleash the beast.
RIP, Eddie. The fact that so many are mourning you who never even considered trying to play like you (through intimidation, stylistic differences or what have you) goes to show that you were more than just a guitarist. I've been meaning to get a "shredder"-type guitar for a while. Once I do, it'll be another little tribute to you.
Not a boiler, a mock bomb with echo units
Not a big fan of fretboard gymnastics, but I can see how he was innovative and influential and inspirational to lots of kids.
Apparently he built his first guitar from guitar pieces lying around for < $100 or so.
RIP to a fellow Dutchman.
As a child of the 80's, this one hurts. Maybe it was because I was a just a carefree kid at that time, or maybe it is the contrast to the political turmoil of today, but the 80s just seemed like a happier time. This somehow feels like the nail in the coffin of the 80s...
Lung Cancer? First I have heard that....
Its a bomb casing...
Yup, old bomb casing used for training that he found in a junkyard, or someplace, and put his echo unit in before dedicated racks became a common-ish thing for guitarists to use (or at least before he had one).
I feel it as the coffin being nailed shut on what they now call dad rock.
I was texting my kids, trying to make them understand the significance, and I told them basically
"I know guitar based rock music isn't even really a thing anymore, but when I was your ages it was huge, and this guy was the absolute top of the heap. He could make his guitar sound like an undersea leviathan or a meteorite hurtling through space, at a time before anyone could do that. Everyone tried to imitate him but no one could touch him. He was the absolute greatest"
I’ve struggled with what to say about this one. The 1984 album was my introduction to Van Halen. Up until then I was unaware of them. I was ten years old when it was released. They didn’t get airplay in small town west Texas, and they weren’t on my dad’s radar, so I didn’t know about them.
In 1984, a year later, I turned eleven and was joining the local Boy Scout troop. One of the older kids, the scoutmaster’s son, lived down the street. We’d been invited over for dinner, and afterward, this older, and super cool kid asked if I wanted to go listen to records in his room. I definitely did. The first thing he put on was 1984, and my mind was blown forever. I still consider “Drop Dead Legs” the most nasty and gnarly guitar riff of ALL time. Period. I took some of my birthday cash and went the next day and bought 1984 on cassette. I probably wore out a dozen copies of it from ages 11-18.
From there, I moved in both directions. I dug into the old stuff. I also got into the newer stuff that was coming out. With Hagar. I’ve been an odd minority most of my life in that I really don’t prefer one over the other. They are two completely different bands, and they are both absolutely incredible.
Ed was at the center of everything, obviously. Those bands sounded like they did, because of him. But not solely because of him. His playing was next level, alien stuff. And facilitated all of that amazing music. But he never would have shined like he did without that ensemble. I’ll just come out and say that Michael Anthony’s vocal harmonies and Alex’ drum style, especially what he accomplished using electronic drums in the tiny 5150 studio, are as important a part of the “Van Halen sound” as Eddie’s guitar. It all made a perfect storm of badassery that just can’t be argued with.
But Eddie was a guitarist, and so are we, so we rightfully focus on that. Some get wrapped up in the DLR stuff, and claim Eddie played his best with that lineup. I disagree. His stuff was out of this world, and literally changed rock and roll forever. It’s not a stretch at all to classify all rock guitar as pre or post Van Halen I. But it wasn’t his best work, IMO.
It was brutal and elegant at the same time. It was equal parts ridiculous timing and chops, and reckless abandon. It was pure beauty. But it was untamed. I really feel that while he put aside some of the pure animal ferocity with the advent of Van Hagar, he also became a much more musical and song oriented guitarist. To me, it was an improvement. It took his already unmatched sound and style to whole higher level. It also illustrated the one major thing to me about him that I knew was different, but could never quite put my finger on... It made me go back and listen to all the earlier stuff again, and... I was right. He wasn’t what I thought he was. He was so much more. The later music really pushed it into the spotlight.
Eddie Van Halen was the greatest rhythm guitarist that has ever lived. People get very focused on his lead playing, shredding, and for lack of a better word, fretboard acrobatics. And let’s face it, there’s a lot there to be excited about. He did it like nobody had ever done it before, and like nobody will ever do it again. He was one of kind. Wholly unique. But it extended far beyond his soloing abilities.
That dude had a freakish sense of time and space, an unprecedented mental riff generator, and a groove so deep it would not be an exaggeration to call it bottomless. As unparalleled as his soloing ability was, his rhythm playing was even more so. And it deeply informed his solos. Those weird twists and turns in the timing and the takeoff and landing of some those bizarro runs came from his rhythm style. It’s a style I’ve never heard anybody else get even close to. It’s why his imitators never get all the way there. They can cop all the tapping and whammy bar antics, and all of the other stuff. But they cannot touch that wicked crazy sense of time and space.
Which is why Michael Anthony was the perfect partner. People like to poke fun at the guy and wonder why he was even in the band. His style for so much of the stuff was so simplistic and rootsy. Quarter or eighth notes. Right on the downbeat. But this is what gave Ed the foundation to be so out there with his timing and delivery. Mike was the reason nobody listening at home ever had trouble finding the 1, no matter how crazy things got in those arrangements. What he did had a very distinct purpose. A lot of guys wouldn’t have been able, much less willing to do that, given what Ed and Alex were doing.
In the end though, it all comes down to Ed. Without his ensemble, and really, that particular group of guys (it really was a perfect storm), the world never sees him as we do today. I’m convinced of that. But his talent was so huge we’d definitely have seen him anyhow. In some capacity. I’m every bit as sure of that as I’ve ever been of anything. The guy was just undeniable as a human. If he’d opened a pool cleaning service or a donut shop, he’d still be totally famous. I know it. I’m really glad he played guitar, though. What a huge difference he made in my life.
A couple extra oddities- Ed was humble to a fault. I’m not sure he ever knew exactly what it was he’d done. How entirely unique he was as a guitarist. I remember reading an interview excerpt once where he remarked that he’d done the “Beat It” solo and didn’t think much of it. He didn’t think anybody would put together that it was him. Says the guy with the style that even non-musicians can pick out in one stinking note. I found that rather hilarious.
Another anecdote that took me by surprise was finding out that Sammy wasn’t the first choice after the band split with Dave. Eddie’s first choice was apparently Patty Smythe. Of Scandal and “The Warrior” fame. She first blew him off because she thought he was messing with her. When he made it clear he was totally serious, she turned down the gig anyhow. She said she just couldn’t see herself in that role, and really didn’t want to go down in history as the chick that ruined Van Halen. Eddie saw something there, though. Who knows? Might have been amazing.
RIP. Play on.
Man, Steve was purging. He and I are the same age. I kept it together until I watched him. Steve is all heart like Eddie.
Beautifully written. Thank you.
NC guy here too. Graduated '84. Saw the 1984 tour (with Autograph) in Charlotte my senior year. Ed was everything. Crushed...
RIP. Sad news. Such an icon and guitar hero.