Eddie Van Halen Story, Find Hidden Facts You Didn’t Know
Eddie Van Halen Story – The electric guitar is the definitive instrument of rock ‘n’ roll, and Eddie Van Halen is one of the few players who can claim to be among the greatest of all time.
This is the untold truth of Eddie Van Halen. Van Halen was the biggest hard rock band since KISS. According to Edward Van Halen: A Definitive Biography, KISS co-leader Gene Simmons was scouting talent for Casablanca Records in 1976 when he discovered Van Halen playing a show in West Hollywood.
Simmons liked the group and booked them some studio time to record demos of 12 songs, and then flew the guys to New York City for overdubs at Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Lady Studios and to play at a showcase for KISS’ manager, Bill Aucoin. He declined to take on Van Halen as clients, but after the band returned to California, Simmons recruited Eddie Van Halen and his brother, drummer Alex Van Halen, to demo songs for the next KISS album, Love Gun.
When KISS’ actual guitarist Ace Frehley was tasked with recording the song “Christine Sixteen,” his solo was a note-by-note recreation of Eddie Van Halen’s attempt. A few years later, around 1982, Eddie was so tired of clashing with singer David Lee Roth that he attempted to join KISS, who were then in the process of splitting with guitarist Ace Frehley.
Simmons told Guitar World: “Eddie said, ‘I want to join KISS. I don’t want to fight anymore with Roth.’ I told him, ‘Eddie, there’s not enough room. You need to be in a band where you can direct the music.'” In his early years, Eddie Van Halen learned the ropes of the touring musicianâ€™s life from his father Jan, the Dutch jazz woodwind player. Van Halen told Esquire: “When I started playing in front of people, I’d get so damn nervous.
I asked him, ‘Dad, how do you do it?’ That’s when he handed me the cigarette and the drink. And I go, ‘Oh, this is good! It works!'” The booze relaxed Van Halen, albeit at tremendous cost: He struggled with alcohol abuse for decades, telling Billboard, quote, “I got drunk before I’d show up to high school,” adding that vodka became his tipple of choice at the recommendation of his science teacher.
In 1988, after the alcohol-related death of his father, Van Halen told Rolling Stone that he’d quit drinking, but the sobriety didn’t stick. He eventually started drinking heavily again, and in 2007, he checked himself into rehab, which made him miss Van Halen’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Eddie Van Halen Story completely reinvented the way his instrument could be played, crafting a one-of-a-kind sound that would influence hard rock contemporaries and successors alike. According to Rolling Stone, Van Halen devised a rock guitar playing method called “finger tapping,” in which he played the guitar’s fretboard like a piano, with two hands, rather than finding notes with one set of fingers and strumming with the other.
The result, as heard on songs like “Eruption”: unrivaled speed, precision, wider freedom in terms of available notes, and just all-around totally metal shredding. It was so unconventional that his brother, drummer Alex Van Halen, advised him during early gigs to play with his back to the audience so nobody would steal his moves.
If Van Halen couldn’t get the exact sound he wanted out of a particular guitar, he’d alter the instrument with saws and sandpaper. Van Halen’s most famous guitar was known as “Frankenstein” or “Frankenstrat”, and the musician built it himself out of a $50 body and an $80 neck.
The piece is so famous that a replica currently resides in the Smithsonian. â€œSome people call it â€˜Frankensteinâ€™; I call it my baby.â€ The only act with a popularity that could rival Van Halen’s in the mid-1980s was Michael Jackson.
He dominated pop music with Thriller, a mega-hit that went on to sell at least 66 million copies. There was a little something for everyone on Thriller â€“ the soft pop of “Human Nature”, the funky post-disco of “Billie Jean”, and even hard rock with “Beat It.” The latterâ€™s centerpiece: a speedy, mind-blowing, electric guitar solo that couldn’t have come from anybody besides Eddie Van Halen. And to think, he almost didn’t even do it. Producer Quincy Jones asked Van Halen to come into the studio, though no specific recording project was agreed upon at first.
While Jackson stepped out briefly to record another song, Van Halen listened to a rough cut of “Beat It,” offered some arrangement tips, and laid down two improvised guitar solos. It all took about 30 minutes. â€œAnd then Michael came in, and I said â€˜I hope you donâ€™t mind, I changed your song.â€™ And he listens and he goes â€˜No, I really like that high fast stuff you do.â€ Van Halen didn’t accept payment, doing it as a favor to Jones, and initially refused credit, too.
But word leaked out, when “Beat It” hit #1 on the pop chart. In 1985, when Van Halen was at its commercial peak thanks to the multi-platinum success of the album 1984, over-the-top lead singer David Lee Roth left the group to pursue a solo career.
Van Halen wasn’t ready to split up and desperately sought out a singer, any singer, that could replace the inimitable Roth. And though the band would eventually go with Sammy Hagar, Van Halen’s initial shortlist of candidates was provocative. Singer Patty Smyth of the band Scandal told Delawareâ€™s News-Journal in 2014: “Eddie asked me to join Van Halen but they asked me not to talk about in interviews at the time because they didn’t want Sammy Hagar to feel like he was the second choice.” Another musician Eddie Van Halen purportedly heavily pursued was pop crooner Daryl Hall of the mega-successful Hall & Oates. When Hagar guested on Hall’s Live from Daryl’s House, he asked Hall about the rumor.
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Hall confirmed that it happened and that he passed. Eddie Van Halen started developing serious health issues in the mid-1990s. He nicknamed Van Halen’s tour supporting the album Balance the “Ambulance tour,” because he played through intense hip pain, and after delaying replacement surgery for years, finally underwent the procedure in 1999.
According to USA Today, Van Halen got a bionic hip because of bone death in the femoral ball part of the hip. Van Halen was also a longtime chain-smoker, although, in 2015, he switched to vaping.
Unfortunately, cancer was found in his mouth in 2000, and a third of his tongue was surgically removed that same year, according to TMZ. Cancer spread to his throat, and while he received a clean bill of health in 2002, he reportedly commuted to Germany for special treatments for years.
Interestingly, Van Halen didn’t blame his cancer on his years of smoking, telling Billboard: “I used metal picks – they’re brass and copper – which I always held in my mouth, in the exact place where I got the tongue cancer. Plus, I basically live in a recording studio that’s filled with electromagnetic energy.” According to TMZ, in 2020 Van Halen’s condition took a turn for the worse.
Cancer had returned and spread to his brain. On October 6, Eddie Van Halen died at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, California, his wife, brother Alex, and son Wolfgang at his bedside. The guitar hero was 65. That’s Eddie Van Halen Story.