Eddie Van Halen, the legendary guitar innovator and virtuoso who led Van Halen through five decades and three lead singers, establishing himself as on the all-time great players in rock history, died Tuesday after a long battle with cancer. He was 65.
“I can’t believe I’m having to write this, but my father, Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, lost his long and arduous battle with cancer this morning,” his son Wolfgang Van Halen wrote. “He was the best father I could ever ask for. Every moment I’ve shared with him on and off stage was a gift. My heart is broken and I don’t think I’ll ever fully recover from this loss.”
Were it not for his titanic influence, hard rock after the late 1970s would have evolved in unimaginably different ways. He may not have invented two-handed tapping, but he perfected the practice and introduced it to a mass audience. But despite his complete mastery of the electric guitar, he never learned to read music.
“I don’t know shit about scales or music theory,” he told Rolling Stone in 1980. “I don’t want to be seen as the fastest guitar in town, ready and willing to gun down the competition. All I know is that rock and roll guitar, like blues guitar, should be melody, speed and taste, but more important, it should have emotion. I just want my guitar playing to make people feel something: happy, sad, even horny.”
Credit Rolling Stone: