Eddie Eddie Eddie

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Jan 27 2010, 2h04

Today we celebrate the birth of the savior of the electric guitar, Edward Lodewijk Van Halen. Van Halen was born on January 26th 1955 in Nijmegen Netherlands to Jan and Eugina Van Halen. Eddie was 12 when he picked up his older brother Alex's guitar and well, never really looked back. Ed never learned to read music, instead he honed his skills by near non stop playing and learning to play Clapton tunes by ear when they came on the radio.

Eventually of course Ed and Al would find a pint sized, Jack Daniels powered dynamo of a bass player named Michael Anthony and a wild maned, high flying, sexually ambiguous, ideal rock and roll frontman named David Lee Roth and Van Halen was born. The quartet released six high octane rock records and became one of the biggest bands in the world at the time. Roth's ego and Ed's insanity would rip them apart in 1984, but VH was saved by a new friend and partner in established solo artist Sammy Hagar. Hagar and Eddie would create four very solid rock albums solidifying the bands mark on rock and roll history. Ed's insanity would push Hagar away opening the door for Gary Cherone to come in and make one misunderstood and under appreciated album, Van Halen III. Eddie continued to get drunk, reunited with Roth, reunited with Hagar, reunited with Roth again, got divorced, got married, fired Anthony and hired his kid to play bass. He hasnt made really any music since III, but the music he has made is remarkable. Van Halen has been and likely will always be one of my favorite bands. On Ed's birthday, Edmas here are some of my favorite Eddie musical moments.

"Eruption" The one that started it all. Eruption is a frantic, harmonic laden two minutes of guitar mayhem that has often been copied, but never been bested.

You Really Got Me Eddie injected the classic rocker by the Kinks with a shot of adrenaline and created a new classic.

Dance the Night Away Eddie's first "pop" classic, this tune uses a unique tone and a bouncy fun melody. The solo is just a series of short taps instead of the typical fiery delivery. All the elements come together to make pop perfection with a VH edge.

Spanish Fly A 60 second acoustic answer to Eruption, this Van Halen II track shows Ed can shred even on the softer side of the guitar.

The opening of And the Cradle Will Rock The opening riff is a keyboard ran through a phase shifter and it sounds MEAN. This whole song is classic Van Halen, unique guitar/keyboard effects, a crazy Dave breakdown, a fiery solo, and a dirty groove from Mike and Al.

Mean Street Fair Warning opens with Ed doing a tap/slap variant with his finger and thumb creating a brutal intro to this first track. Then the main guitar track is swift clean and heavy. The melodies and harmonies are awesome. Awesome tune.

Hear About It Later One of my all time favorite VH tracks, this tune opens with a slow build up intro with a unique and distinct tone. The tune builds to a mid tempo rocker with a great pop hook. Sort of a bridge between classic, heavier VH and the poppier VH that would emerge with 1984.

Unchained One of the most distinctive and instantly recognizable riffs in hard rock history, Ed opens Unchained with a heavy, pounding, echoey, yet still melodic riff that leads into one of the dirtiest and heaviest tracks in the game. Dave's classic spoken studio breakdown "one break comiiiiiiiiiin up" is awesome, but its Ed's riff and solo that shine. A classic!

Cathedral This solo consisting of controlled volume swells would become a classic staple of Eddie's extended live solo for the rest of his career. Haunting, melodic and utterly compelling, most folks mistake this brief musical sidenote as a keyboard solo.

Little Guitars One of those tunes where no one has the foggiest clue what the hell Dave is doing and saying, Ed provides a unique and punchy riff that again sounds like quick taps on a synth. The outro here is one of the best things Ed's ever done.

Jump Live Jump is the track that some VH fans love to hate. Although keyboards had been a staple of Ed's arsenal for awhile, this was the first time they were up front and the main focus. My fave Ed moment is not from the studio version, but from the live version where Ed left the guitar backstage completely and played both solos (the keyboard and guitar) on the synthesizer. It makes for a unique and different take on the mega hit.

Hot For Teacher By most accounts this goofy song should be a disaster, but it fit the time and Dave sells it. But the bottom line here is Ed absolutely shreds, the intro, the riffs, the bluesy breakdowns, the solo and the outro are all full tilt from start to finish. Just watching Ed play this is exhausting.

Stompin 8H. Ed joined GE Smith and the Saturday Night Live band for a jam session while his then wife Valerie was hosting the show. The spontaneous improvisational jam that resulted both showcased Ed's familiar trademarks, and highlighted his musical instincts. An AWESOME jam.

Donut City While breaking free from Dave, Ed took some time to do the soundtrack for the movie The Wild Life. While the score itself is interesting in that it includes instrumental versions of songs that would eventually end up sprinkled throughout the next 4 VH albums such as Good Enough and Right Now, the single track included on the soundtrack is awesome. An instrumental track featuring Ed on guitar, bass and errrr umm drum machine, the style provides a virtual musical bridge between 1984 and 5150. Essentially the track would have fit well on either album, but you could easily argue for each. A great unique tune and interesting sidenote in Ed's career.

5150 The entire 5150 album is one of my favorite Ed moments. Even the keyboard heavy, poppy ballads Love Walks In and Dreams. This album was the zenith for the "pop" Van Halen era that began with Diver Down. Sammy Hagar brought out the best of EVH, the pair had fun writing these songs and their attitude is infectious. While many people turn up their nose and Sammy's love songs, the fact is Get Up, Good Enough, Inside, Summer Nights and even Why Can't This Be Love are pretty heavy numbers. I love this album; the tone, Ed freely moving between keyboard and guitar, the melodies and the solos- wow the solos. On a recent Sammy Hagar tour, his very capable guitarist Vic johnson puntuated how unique and difficult these solos were when he attempted to play some tunes from this album. On Summer Nights he changed the solo significantly and on 5150, they just stopped the song where the solo should have began. Awesome record.

Eddie's Solo from [video artist=Van Halen]Live Without a Net[/video] Eddie showed people on video why he is the man. This solo which would more or less be his live spotlight for much of the rest of his career started with a blusey, slow melodic intro that would eventually become 316, and launched into a collection of snippets from his most recognizable solos and intros including Eruption, Spanish Fly, Cathedral and Mean Streets. Classic Ed complete with a cigarette in the headstock, smoke rings, and lots of jumping that would lead eventually to complete hip replacement.

Cabo Wabo I really like the whole OU812 album, but in a twist of future irony Cabo Wabo was the track where Ed really shines. The tone is awesome the riff is cool and the solo i awesome. Sadly Cabo was one of the things that would destroy Van Hagar, but it is one of my favorite Ed tunes.

The intro to Poundcake That drill on that guitar, so totally not new, but so freaking awesome.

Four finger tapping during the breakdown after the verse on Judgement Day Ed reinvents his signature "tapping" by doing it his pointer and middle fingers from the top of the neck of the guitar. Genius.

316 The acoustic version of Ed's opening part of his live solo is just awesome here. Very short, but very powerful, no shredding just emotion. He said hed play this to Valerie's belly when she was pregnant with Wolfgang


Don't Tell Me (What Love Can Do) This hard rocking track from Balance is nothing short of the peak of the band. While the song is a showcase for Sam as well, it is Ed's hard rocking crunchy riff, quick changes, amazing solo, and compelling melody that make this quite simply one of heavy rocks all time best tunes.

Human's Being Very similar to Dont Tell Me, Human's Being is a very heavy, very complex rock tune. Conceived for the soundtrack to the movie Twister, this tune builds and builds on itself, Ed's solo is deliberate, but frantic at the same time taking the song and the listner to a breaking point. The rawness and intensity of this song is representative of the state fo the band at the time and really this can be seen as the true end of Van Halen. Sure they would reunite with both Sam and Dave after their short stint with Gary Cherone, but everything they had been building since 1984-Balance seemed to some to a head with this essentially their "swan song".

Ed cures cancer. Eddie got tongue cancer. From putting metal picks in his mouth. Certainly not from the 3 packs of cigarettes he smoked since he was 14. Anyway at some point he beat the cancer and in an unguarded moment on Howard Stern he claimed to have created or had direct knowledge to an actual cure for cancer. When pressed, Ed backed off and change the subject, but the rumor persists that Ed has a cure for cancer. His cancer certainly has not yet spread or returned and he looks better than ever so...who knows.

The solo from Without You. Van Halen III, than band's only album with singer Gary Cherone is much maligned, but honestly its a pretty solid effort and features some of Ed's most adventurous and ambitious playing. The solo on the opening track is one of his best.

From Afar One of my fave VH tune ever and probably the best tune on Van Halen III. The opening is deliberate and melodic. Ed has a commitment to this song. The elaborate multi channel production on the tune allows the entire band to shine, but its Ed's unique playing that carries the tune on its back.

Hot for Teacher Live 2007 reunion tour. I had often though as intense and fiery as Hot for Teacher was, I never imagined it translating well on stage. When VH teamed back up with David Lee Roth for a reunion cash grab in '07 I was proven wrong. Ed proved that even as an old man he could shred and turned this gimmicky tune into an intense highlight through manic, but controlled bursts of adreneline.

? That's it. I hope that someday Ed tours or hopefully makes ne music again. He is a rare talent he has let ego, personal demons and too much other crap hinder what could have been and even more awesome and productive career. Happy Birthday Ed.

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