The rock world has lost a legend with the untimely passing of Eddie Van Halen. The Guitar Center family is saddened to learn of this news, and we extend our deepest condolences to the Van Halen family, their friends and rock fans across the world who are mourning this great loss.
As the guitar virtuoso, leader and songwriter behind one of the most iconic rock bands of all time—Van Halen—Eddie leaves behind a legacy as one of the greatest, most original and groundbreaking guitarists. Since forming Van Halen (with his brother, Alex, on drums) in Pasadena, Calif., in the early ’70s, Eddie catapulted the band to success, selling tens of millions of albums across five decades, winning a Grammy and earning an induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. Outside of Van Halen, Eddie also contributed his guitar playing on records for a variety of artists, like Brian May and Michael Jackson, for whom he lent the fiery solo on “Beat It.”
While songs like “Dance the Night Away,” “Hot for Teacher, “Panama,” “Jump” and “Running With The Devil” made Van Halen a household name throughout the late ’70s and early ’80s, it was Eddie’s unmistakable playing style that helped the band rise to fame. His nearly inimitable guitar sound—highlighted by two-handed tapping—was highly technical but still unbelievably soulful, and has served as a huge influence for many guitarists.
With a few spare parts he even assembled his own signature guitar—Frankenstein—and used it to take rock guitar playing to dizzying heights. The Frankenstein, along with his black-and-yellow “Bumblebee” guitar, gave rise to other modified “superstrats.” Much like his playing style, Eddie’s guitar innovations feature unmistakable aesthetics and forward-thinking designs that are all hallmarks of his audacious style and playing, his determination and ingenuity. Just like his signature sounds, his signature guitars are instantly recognizable.
An inaugural inductee into the Guitar Center Rockwalk, Eddie was a major influence on countless guitar players and musicians in our industry. Learning his licks has become a rite of passage for so many. His legacy will continue to live on through the decades of music he created and the current and future musicians he’s inspired.