Eddie Van Halen
Eddie Van Halen was born Edward Lodewijk van Halen in Nijmegen, Netherlands, on the 26th of January. 1955.
Eddie grew up in the Netherlands with his Mother, Father and younger brother Alex. Eddie’s Father was an accomplished musician who played the piano, saxophone and clarinet. Eddie’s received his name “Lodewijk” as tribute to Ludwig van Beethoven.
In 1962 Eddie moved to the United States to live with his family in Pasedena, California. As children, Eddie and his younger brother Alex learned the piano, taking classic lessons with Stasys “Stanley” Kalvaitis.
Eddie admitted he never properly learned to read music, instead he learnt from watching his teachers hands. Between 1964 and 1967 Eddie won first prize at the Long Beach City College annual piano competition.
Having never mastered reading music Eddie would often improvise throughout his performances resulting in the judges believing he was presenting practiced interpretations of his pieces.
Eddie’s attention soon turned to the drums, he began learning to play them while his brother Alex learned the guitar. During Eddie’s paper rounds Alex would often play Eddie’s drums, after recognising his younger brothers drumming ability after a performance of the drum solo from “Wipe Out” Eddie decided they should swap instruments and he began spending long hours practicing the guitar.
Eddie cites Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton as two of his most prominent guitar playing influences having claimed to have learned every one of Eric Clapton‘s solos from Cream note for note. Eddie admitted that the Cream song “I’m So Glad” was powerful inspiration on the development of his guitar playing.
Eddie and Alex Van Halen formed their first band while Eddie was in 4th grade at elementary school called “The Broken Combs”, the group would rehearse during lunch time. Eddie said his experience with this early band gave him the desire to become a professional guitar player.
In 1972 Eddie and Alex formed a band called “Genesis” but after hearing about the English progressive rock band of the same name, they changed the name to “Mammoth”.
The group originally consisted of Eddie on guitar and vocals, Alex on drums and Mark Stone on bass. The band would rent their PA system from David Lee Roth, after becoming disillusioned with singing lead vocals, Eddie decided to hire David Lee Roth as the band’s singer, a decision that would also save the group money on PA hire. The group also replaced bass guitarist Mark Stone with Michael Anthony not long after.
The group changed their name from “Mammoth” to “Van Halen” at the suggestion of David Lee Roth who thought it would be a unique band name and also though it “sounded cool”.
Eddie Van Halen is largely known for his red black and white painted “Frankenstrat” he customised himself, but he has enjoyed a variety of different guitars throughout the course of his career.
Some of which include an Ibanez Destroyer nicknamed “The Shark” a Kramer known as the “5150”, a Steinberger GL-2T, an EVH Music Man and the EVH Wolfgang.
Eddie relied upon Marshall amplification for a large majority of his career but later developed the Van Halen 5150 III with Fender.
Eddie is also famous for the use of the MXR Phase 90 pedal which creates the hypnotic swirls in his tone.
Musical Techniques, Concepts and Approaches
Eddie Van Halen‘s style is characterised by his signature two handed tapping, dive bombs, tremolo picking, natural and artificial harmonics, volume swells, palm muting, wild bends, confident vibrato, fast picking and legato passages and soulful blues rock phrasing.
Though the technique of two handed tapping had been around for quite a while, Eddie Van Halen is praised for solidifying the technique into the rock guitar playing vernacular.
Eddie is also widely renowned for his technical scale passages comprised of a mixture of fast picking and legato, as well as his fiery blues rock phrasing coloured with pinched harmonics, palm muting and wild bends.
Influence In Rock Guitar Playing
He is widely considered to have revolutionised electric guitar playing the world over with his outlandish and innovative techniques and musical concepts.
Eddie his also considered one of the primary figures in the development of the heavy metal genre and virtuoustic guitar playing. Van Halen licks became a necessity in the arsenal of the lead guitarist by the end of the 1970’s.
Eddie also influenced the development of the electric guitar, pushing breakthroughs in the Floyd Rose locking tremolo system, effects pedals, and amplification.
Eddie Van Halen has been cited by countless notable rock guitar players has an undeniable influence.
If you are interested in guitar lessons then fill out the form for your FREE evaluation lesson by clicking the FREE lesson button below.