Eddie Van Halen, the former lead guitarist of rock band Van Halen, died Oct. 6 due to cancer at 65 years old.
In the ensuing days since, local guitarists and music lovers alike have come forward to pay tribute to the rockstar, and say what he means to them.
“The first time I ever heard Van Halen was on my iPod where I saw a YouTube video of Eddie playing ‘Eruption,’” local Cleveland guitarist Torin Dunn wrote via text message. “This was right when I was just learning how to play guitar and that solo alone was enough to really push me to practice more. There are thousands of guitar players that have felt the same impulse that I did just by hearing him play. He was a legend.”
This same sentiment was shared by local BG guitarist A.C. Leffel.
“Eddie was the reason I started playing and now its up to all of us to keep that flame lit,” he said.
Marco Mendoza, the assistant manager of recording services at BGSU, weighed in on the fallen guitarist’s legacy over email.
“I think EVH was one of the most influential guitarists who ever lived. The history seems to be skewed if he invented "tapping". He may or may not have been the "founder" of the technique. But he was the Master of that technique for the time. He was one of the most creative guitarists around. He purposely overdrove his amplifiers pushing the amps to their limit. Which was one of his signature sounds.”
He continued to write about his first experience listening to Van Halen.
“The first time I heard ‘Eruption’ my ears couldn't make sense of what was going on. From tapping, to tremolo-picking, pick-scrapes, pinch harmonics, whammy dive bombs, hammering and pulling off frets, it was a salad of sounds I never heard up until that point. I think it was then I wanted to play guitar and I know many guitarists with the same exact story.”
Local BG guitarist Ethan Timm shared what Van Halen meant to him as well over an Instagram direct message.
“Eddie Van Halen was hands down one of the greatest, most revolutionary musicians to ever live. He changed the way the electric guitar is played so much that virtually every guitarist today is influenced by him in at least some small way. I happen to be very influenced by him, I grew up listening to Van Halen. I even play an Eddie Van Halen-designed guitar. I was always amazed by ‘Eruption,’ especially live versions which lasted ten minutes and were largely improvised. Eddie never seemed to mess up and kept things interesting and always lightning fast. After over 5 years of playing guitar and practicing often, I am nowhere near Eddie’s level and I have a hard time thinking that I ever could be. But it keeps me and so many other guitarists motivated to think that it’s at least possible,” he said in the message.
Conclusively, Timm said, “So, Rest In Peace Eddie, thank you for all the music. We’ll miss your guitar solos, your big grins, and all of the crazy animal sounds you could make on your instrument.”