Guitar legend Eddie Van Halen, whose virtuosity propelled the band that bears his name to superstardom, has passed away from cancer at age 65.
Van Halen was big when guitar players were big.
From about 20 years ago right back to the very beginning of rock and roll, most of the big names played the guitar.
Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, Prince — Elvis was perhaps the only one who didn’t need it, but he faked playing guitar anyway.
If you were learning a musical instrument in the last millennium, it was the guitar that was the first choice.
And if you were listening to loud music in the late ’70s and the ’80s, chances are you found yourself listening to Eddie Van Halen.
I remember seeing Van Halen at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto in support of their first album. It was one of my first concerts.
When the house lights came on after the show, you could barely see the no-smoking sign on the other side of the arena due to the smoke.
Eddie will go down as one of the greatest guitar players, and he passes, oddly enough, at a time when the guitar is seeing a resurgence — not necessarily in popular music but in real, day-to-day life.
While hunkered down during a global pandemic, the world is rediscovering the instrument and the guitar is making a comeback with sales and lessons picking up.
The memory and work of Eddie Van Halen can only help that.