Steve Vai, Nuno Bettencourt, and a host of stars sign up with Guitar Player in paying tribute to a revolutionary guitarist.

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Our guitar universe obtained kicked in the heart on October 6, 2020. That’s when we shed our king. Edward valve Halen left this mortal world on that day. It to be a civilization that he seemed only tangentially linked to beforehand. However when that left it, there to be a huge, unexpected, devastating, EVH-shaped feet in that world.


Medical specialists are separated on the severity of spirit kicks. The consensus is they aren’t fatal, but they hurt yes, really bad. You can recover indigenous them, yet it will most likely take a lengthy time. That’s wherein we discover ourselves. In a civilization without van Halen. A human being without Ed.

Say that again. You never ever thought about it, walk you? no one of united state did. And yet right here we are. The was straightforward to think the Eddie valve Halen would live forever. Eddie van Halen to be bulletproof. That wasn’t simply tougher than any kind of other guitarist; he was cooler, stronger, groovier, better, and also cooler than any other guitarist. (And yeah, I stated cooler twice. Because, well, EVH.)

Given the we have no an option but come think literally around a human being without valve Halen, let’s take it a step earlier and ponder figuratively a world without valve Halen. Think because that a minute wherein we can be if Eddie van Halen had not existed. Whereby would we be, as guitarists? over there is no answer, but let’s just go ahead and ask the question.


Would your ar have gone from one or 2 guitarists that strummed folk tunes or test Aerosmith or AC/DC covers come a neighborhood where every kid on every block pestered his parents into gaining him an electrical guitar (thanks, Mom!), and also then somehow persuaded those parents to let that kid and also his girlfriend play together loud together they could in their garage, since now they had actually a band and also they needed to play all day, every day, since they to be going to do it big?


No. That wouldn’t have happened.


How do we know? due to the fact that your ar had one guitarist before Van Halen was released, and then, seemingly overnight, your ar had a dozen guitarists that wanted come play in van Halen–style bands. And that’s what lock did. Us all saw it, and also we were all part of it. It was our “Beatles ~ above The Ed Sullivan Show” moment.

Things adjusted in an immediate – because of a guy named valve Halen – and also they never ever went earlier again.


Ask yourself this: What if Eddie valve Halen hadn’t been around to put a PAF in the bridge place of his Strat? Sure, Robbie Robertson had already done it. But he didn’t change the game. Robbie Robertson is cool, yet he didn’t transform the industry. Watch where we’re going here?

What if Ed hadn’t painted his guitar? In 1977, you could pretty much choose in between red, white, or black color guitars. Oh, the irony. With a Strat-shaped body, Eddie took part paint and also some tape and also well… we all know what happened. Yet here’s what people forget: It to be unprecedented. No guitar, no player, and also no design ever adjusted the service instantaneously.

Les Paul, for all his genius and also talent, did not watch the world freak out prefer the human being freaked the fuck out once Eddie van Halen hit the scene. Guitars went from staid and also predictable to flashy, edgy, and crazy funny overnight. Strats v humbuckers? Guitars through a solitary humbucker in the bridge and a single volume knob and also no tone knob? custom graphics? are you serious?

After 1978, no firm was taken serious if it didn’t take on those Eddie-approved ideas. Eddie would certainly obviously continue to be a guitar style trailblazer transparent his career, crafting fantastic models with Music Man, Peavey, and also eventually his own EVH brand. Fine tools all, and many branded v the surname of his child – Wolfgang – to whom he to be famously and also fiercely loyal.

None that those instruments, however, would captivate a generation. The Frankenstein. The the black and also white guitar that would morph into the red, white, and also black guitar that would certainly laser-etch itself on ours brains.

Name one other guitar pattern in background that you can put on a pair of plank shorts and people in other countries will identify it. Put the best 1959 Les Paul sunburst on a pair of flip-flops and see how numerous comments you get. What if Eddie van Halen had never inquiry the question, “I wonder what would occur if I worry this note with my appropriate hand rather of my left hand?”


No, Eddie didn’t create two-hand tapping. Henry Ford didn’t design the internal-combustion engine, either. However Eddie van Halen changed the people with it. Brian May, Larry Carlton, Billy Gibbons, Harvey Mandel, Ace Frehley, Roy Smeck, and others go two-hand tapping before Eddie. Ask castle what they think the his donation to the technique.

He didn’t just lug tapping come the masses. Eddie valve Halen own tapping. Here’s an additional question: What if Ed hadn’t been about to it is in an influence? What if 1978 had come and gone and our greatest guitar heroes were still the men that us loved in 1977?

Forget about the truth that we wouldn’t have Eddie’s amazing catalog of etc magic. What would certainly have become of Steve Vai, Jason Becker, Paul Gilbert, Nuno Bettencourt, and also countless others who adhered to him? would we not have those great players? we would.


Eddie didn’t have a monopoly on greatness, and those men were walk to it is in brilliant no matter what. Yet would they have the swagger, the swing, the fire, and the ungodly chops the they every happily possess if it weren’t for EVH? Maybe. Yet most that the rest of us got every one of that indigenous Eddie. That let us believe in the flexibility to play v humor, fearlessness, and also unbridled joy.

We saw it in every video clip and ~ above every gig. Prior to Eddie, guitarists performed onstage. Eddie valve Halen commemorated onstage, and he invited all of us to join in on the celebration. Therefore we’ve imagined the very sad variation of a civilization without van Halen, one wherein Eddie never ever existed. But thankfully, gloriously, we space not in that world.

To offer a little an ext perspective, mental this: We got the Beatles for 7 years. We gained Led Zeppelin because that 10 years, and also we gained Jimi Hendrix for way less than that. Then shot to peer through our collective sadness and also realize the we gained Eddie van Halen for more than 40 years.

Think around how lucky we are. Think around how much better our resides are since that dude came along and did what come so easily to him. Stop contemplate that. And let’s offer thanks. This tribute will certainly not effort to Wikipedia Ed’s career, or incorporate a discography, or translate into a perform of his biggest solos, or phone call you just how to acquire the “brown sound.”


Those topics and that minutiae have actually been extended eloquently many times and also will proceed to be talked about. However quite frankly, Eddie van Halen is bigger than those details. What we will certainly do below is memory the man and also how happy and also inspired he has made us. That’s it.

Then, tomorrow, we deserve to get ago to arguing around what magnet was under the pickup top top the Bumblebee guitar, what role the MXR EQ played on his pedalboard, even if it is he played the Strat with the Dano neck ~ above the intro come “Women in Love,” what the true signal chain to be on “Unchained,” even if it is he come up with his tapping an approach from the town hall The Song stays the Same or indigenous a Harvey Mandel gig, how he gained the neck-pickup tone on the “I’ll Wait” solo, and also if Fair Warning is the ideal Van Halen album or the best freaking album of every time.

When I very first started trying to find the following guitar hero, a the majority of players to be trying to tackle ‘Eruption‘ yet they to be unremarkable, with small soul and nothing initial to offer

Mike Varney

We will talk about these points for as lengthy as we have actually breath, and we will carry out it v the same exuberance we had as kids. We all met Edward Lodewijk valve Halen the first time he flabbergasted us v his etc playing. Yet the an initial time we encountered his talked words was in the pages of Guitar Player’s November 1978 issue.

The writer who acquired there very first was Jas Obrecht. It was in that spellbinding newspaper that we learned about Ed’s gear, his techniques and also unorthodox strategy to effects. Guitarists the world over held on every word, memorized and repeated them, occasionally as if they had originally said it themselves.

The start of the period of van Halen to be so an effective that it led a young Mike Varney to ponder, “If in the ’60s we had actually Hendrix and in the late ’70s we have actually Eddie van Halen, who can be the next large guitar hero? There have to be guitarists almost everywhere the U.S. No one has ever heard of. What might be much more exciting than finding out the next good undiscovered guitarist?”


When he started Shrapnel Records, Varney put out the speak to for guitarists who can burn in the style of Ulrich Roth, Michael Schenker, Allan Holdsworth and also – you guessed it – Eddie van Halen. Varney’s search attracted the attention of Obrecht and also eventually brought about a GP pillar on new guitar talent dubbed Spotlight.

The floodgates opened and also Varney gained cassettes from soldier of unknown guitarists. Return Spotlight was for great players in all genres, the most common influence was Eddie van Halen.

“When I first started looking for the following guitar hero, a most players to be trying to tackle ‘Eruption,’” Varney recalls. “But they to be unremarkable, with tiny soul and also nothing original to offer. By 1982, things changed and there were amazing players – such together a 15-year-old Paul Gilbert – who were deeply motivated by Eddie and also were beginning to press the envelope and also explore brand-new techniques.”

Some of the various other submitters that were influenced by Eddie valve Halen contained Vinnie Moore, Richie Kotzen, Jason Becker, and also Greg Howe.

I’ll most likely be asked come play the "Beat It" solo because that the remainder of mine life. It is okay, because it’s among the most perfect solos ever before recorded: exciting, wicked, challenging, lyrical, and also innovative

Jennifer Batten

One the the few female guitarists to appear in Varney’s Spotlight was Jennifer Batten, that would eventually go on come play through her hero, Jeff Beck. But prior to that happened, Batten would need to play a couple of shows follow me the way.

At the time, Ed to be pushing the state that the art v his very own compositions and playing through such relentless creative thinking that rock music couldn’t perhaps contain his talents. Michael Jackson and also Quincy Jones come calling (with the hall of fame badasses from Toto in the rate section) and also asked the best guitarist in the civilization to beat on a tiny song referred to as “Beat It.”

Spoiler alert: that obliterated musical, cultural, racial, and also stylistic boundaries in an instant. It readjusted the video game overnight.



(Image credit: Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)

Where have we heard the before? yes no concern that Jennifer Batten obtained the Michael Jackson gig due to the fact that of she deep musicality. Yet there was one tune at the audition that you had to recognize to acquire the job.

“I psychic the first time i heard Eddie’s ‘Beat It’ solo,” Batten says. “It was shockingly great and stood miles above anything else on the radio, for this reason I collection out to learn it. The kicked mine ass, and I provided up 3 times before I acquired it. Climate I had the honor of play that solo because that 10 years with Michael Jackson. I’ll most likely be asked come play it because that the remainder of my life.

“That’s okay, due to the fact that it’s among the many perfect solos ever before recorded: exciting, wicked, challenging, lyrical and also innovative, and also it tells a story top top its own. In the end, the solo to buy me a house and launched mine career. Say thanks to you, Edward!” Zillions of working musicians were also digging what Eddie to be bringing come the table. One beloved guitar teacher in Berkeley, Calfornia, attended van Halen gigs like the remainder of us.

Even v the total rock and also roll chaos of beforehand ’80s van Halen shows, Eddie had the whole arena mesmerized, hanging ~ above every keep in mind he played

Joe Satriani

“I watched Eddie take over the Cow royal residence stage one night at an incendiary valve Halen concert,” Joe Satriani says. “That stays fixed in my memory. Also with the total rock and roll chaos of early ’80s valve Halen shows, Eddie had actually the whole arena mesmerized, hanging top top every note he played.

“His sound and timing were perfect: dangerous, outrageous, joyful, happy – all this and also so much more. At one point, he seemingly stopped the show to let united state all watch him pat his guitar, all by himself. No pretense, just Eddie easily improvising v no time constraint. His performance was jaw-dropping, over-the-top amazing. He to be a brilliant musician on every level.

“We all understand that, however it needs repeating. Much more importantly, that filled our hearts v hopes and also dreams, and enriched the soundtrack of our stays with his distinctive gift. I will miss him in our world.” It’s no at every surprising the high-energy rockers that came of age in the so late ’70s and also early ’80s love EVH. Yet a many players that were created pre–Van Halen were no as smitten.


Some feeling threatened. Part were offended. Yet the true heavyweights knew a kindred spirit when they experienced one, and also they loved and admired Eddie van Halen. Steve Morse, that had overcame GP’s Readers’ Poll because that so long it wasn’t fair, jammed with Ed and also the an excellent Albert Lee in ~ a memorable 1991 NAMM event for Ernie Ball/Music Man.

“Playing those couple of nights through Eddie and Albert Lee because that the Biff Baby’s All-Stars gigs showed how he can enthusiastically tackle music the was external of his regular fare,” Morse says. “The more rocking the songs got, the more he certain wailed. However I to be equally impressed through his rate ideas and also his capacity to come up with parts having some space, as we had three guitars onstage!

“He offered his ears to follow the unfamiliar tunes, and also showed he had a many raw talent at adhering to the band on those tricky arrangements. Also though I come from a various strata that the music business, i felt favor Eddie and I conversed easily. Us had many things in common, consisting of the fact that us both admired and also had played through Allan Holdsworth. All in all, it to be an exciting few days for me.”

I was blown far by his innovation. That a large thing to take guitar into an all-new direction. His tone and also phrasing come out the nowhere

Sonny Landreth

Sonny Landreth is an additional player that had created his distinctive voice ~ above the guitar well prior to Van Halen arrived. He recalls his encounter through Ed.

“Mike short article was developing my Levee Town album, and he had functioned with valve Halen. Eddie come by the studio and also he was just digging that – really encouraging. He said he was a fan. Together a sweetheart. Ns was blown away by his innovation. That a vast thing to take it guitar into an all-new direction. His tone and also phrasing came out of nowhere. He had actually a wide soul. That was constantly apparent.”

The crossgenre very nice of van Halen to be undeniable. In every era over there is a guitarist the is a litmus test. No matter what you into, if you don’t obtain this guy, that says something about you, and also not something good. Eddie van Halen was that guy.

Eddie Martinez knows a point or two around crossing genres. He played on Run-DMC’s “Rock Box,” Robert Palmer’s “Addicted come Love,” toured through Mick Jagger, and, in a very VH-connected little of serendipity, videotaped with both David Lee Roth and also Sammy Hagar.



(Image credit: Daniel Knighton/Getty Images))

“It’s really difficult to describe EVH’s influence with mere words,” Martinez says. “I first saw valve Halen open up for journey in the late ’70s in brand-new York. I knew best there and also then that ns was evil a seismic transition in the civilization of full-frontal absent guitar.

“Edward valve Halen’s affect was so brand-new and authentic, with an irreverent feeling of humor, hitting us v a barrage of insane iconic licks, all with great aplomb for a new generation. He was a transcendent and also true guitar hero, and also we all owe that a debt of gratitude.”

(As if Martinez needed much more VH street cred, over there is ample clip of Eddie VH play Eddie M’s “Addicted come Love” components onstage. Is the cool? Yeah, the is.) Somewhere along the way, there was a shift in the VH universe.

Edward van Halen’s affect was so new and authentic, with an irreverent feeling of humor, hitting us through a barrage that insane above licks

Eddie Martinez

Maybe because of the singer guy? points changed. Dave to be out, Sam was in, and Ed embarked down a road of popular music melodicism, where, also if he no doing “I’m the One”–level burn or “Mean Street”–style innovation, he was still play inventive, beautiful guitar parts with a facility and also fluidity that deserve to only be defined as valve Halen–esque.

But what to be that various other branch of the EVH tree, the one the was additionally know by three initials – DLR – doing? Well, in true Dave fashion, he hired the one dude who human being thought could “out Eddie Eddie” – Steve Vai.

It to be a shot throughout the bow. Our tribalistic nature forced countless of us to take it sides. Vai possessed unreal chops and also insane musicianship. But the stuff the terrified the football player so fiercely loyal to Ed was Vai’s sense of humor. His swing and sway. And also Vai did every little thing he did v a slightly unhinged grin. He to be happy. Might this man actually dethrone the king?


“I absolutely know people’s loyalty to Edward,” Vai says, “because I’m part of that team of world that was enamored v his playing. The Van Halen music was just as crucial to me together it to be to everyone else.

“When Dave called, that was exciting for me because I kind of felt ns knew the direction the music to be going in, and I knew I can contribute. However as much as ns loved Edward’s playing, ns knew the if i tried to contend with him and also create guitar components that were trying to emulate him, the fans would certainly see ideal through it, and also it i will not ~ work.

“It certainly was great playing those van Halen songs. Those guitar parts are like orchestrations. Lock sit so beautifully under your hands. They’re so fine constructed. They were a difficulty for me, because the way he played them, each note had its very own zip code.

“When Edward laid under a guitar track, it to be handed to you top top a silver- platter, there is no the need of any type of accoutrements. It to be all appropriate in there. The was kind of prefer a universe, friend know? The notes space the stars and also planets, and also there’s every this beautiful room in between.

It certainly was good playing those valve Halen songs. Those guitar parts are favor orchestrations. They sit so beautifully under your hands

Steve Vai

“Edward was connected. His DNA was so colorful in every note he played. There’s this thing that can occur if a human finds what they really love doing and they litter themselves right into it v no excuses, no obstructions, and no desire except to gain their intentionally across.

“When they carry out that, yes sir this shift that occurs, and also it’s prefer that human stepped on a freight train in the direction of your intention and also nothing stop them. Whatever works v them. I saw this so obviously with Edward.

"Our mental obstructions can gain in the method of our own genius. He never permitted that to happen. The let the come through innocently and also purely. And also that’s the beauty, beauty of genius. There’s a fascinating innocence in it, and he had actually that.”

Speaking of males who had to monitor in the substantial footsteps the EVH, Jason Becker acquired the gig through Dave after ~ Vai, based partially on the many incredible audition ice of every time, where Jason double-tracked the intro come “Hot because that Teacher,” tapping one track and also picking every keep in mind on the double. (Google it. The happened.)


No big shock that Jason – the heir obvious to whatever that Eddie made cool – got the gig. He wasn’t able to totally realize that promise (as we’ve in-depth in the second best-selling GP worry of every time), yet Jason continues to be a enormous Eddie valve Halen fan and is gratefully mindful of wherein he sits in the EVH pantheon.

“It’s difficult to put how I feel around Eddie’s music into words, since it was all about pure power, energy, aggression, beautiful tone, swing, funk, and also his music personality,” Jason says. “No matter how many times you listen to Eddie, it constantly sounds fresh, brand-new and fun. That was beyond his amazing techniques, prefer tapping. It was all around his feel.

“When I very first started playing with David Lee Roth, he chosen me because the means I played with my best hand reminded him of Eddie. That an respect to have played through Dave and also to be friends with Eddie. They both take it me under their wings in various ways.”


Jason Becker’s DLR bandmate Steve Hunter to know cool guitar. He played v Lou Reed, he played on Aerosmith’s “Train retained a Rollin’” and he play the riff ~ above Peter Gabriel’s “Solsbury Hill.”

When asked about the influence of EVH, that did not hesitate. “So along comes Eddie valve Halen to present us every a new method to beat the guitar,” Hunter says.

“Hundreds of hundreds of young etc players everywhere the world found themselves saying, ‘I wanna play favor that!’ i don’t use this word much since I think that abused, however Eddie is a true legend. His incredible playing will certainly live top top in the countless guitar players affected by him.”

Before Eddie, there would be rhythm, then there would be a etc solo. Eddie would carry out both. It was a new form of playing that revolutionized the guitar and made the so fun

Nuno Bettencourt

Nuno Bettencourt come up in the VH era and took the valve Halen influence and also made it his own. He reflected on his, and our, partnership with Eddie only a few days after ~ Ed’s passing.

“Before Eddie,” he says, “there would certainly be rhythm, then there would certainly be a etc solo. Eddie would execute both. He would certainly sprinkle these exceptional things throughout the other three minute of the tune that made the so interesting. It was a new kind of play that revolutionized the guitar and made it so fun.

“I follow civilization on Instagram who room so advanced technically that ns don’t know exactly how they deserve to do what lock do. Eddie trumps every one of that. And it’s no close. He to be the perfect balance that technique, emotion, tone, touch, and also swing. Eddie to be the most well-rounded guitarist ever. His solos almost had a verse, a chorus and a leg all simply within the solo.


“I’ve gotten so many texts from human being saying, ‘Sorry for her loss,’” Bettencourt continues. “I perform feel favor I shed my large brother. A many us feeling that method right now. Eddie didn’t hold anything back. All of his emotions are there, with pure honesty. That’s why us all feeling so connected to him, even people who didn’t accomplish him.

I execute feel choose I lost my large brother. A the majority of us feeling that way right now

Nuno Bettencourt

“You did satisfy him. Friend met him as soon as you listened to his playing, or saw a gig or watched a video. That super sad the we shed him as a human being being, however we haven’t lost his music. And also we are so lucky.”

Somehow this story demands to end. We might easily store reading and also talking and also reminiscing forever. For this reason let’s every take a deep breath and also say what us all know to it is in true in ours hearts: Eddie van Halen is the best guitarist in the background of an excellent guitarists. Ns am no saying that. We are saying that. Because he is our guitar hero. The is our guy.

We love you, Ed. We miss you terribly, however we space eternally grateful for what girlfriend have provided us. Us wouldn’t play etc if it weren’t for you. Us wouldn’t understand one an additional if that weren’t because that you. We wouldn’t be talk if the weren’t for you.

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You are our Beatles. You space our Hendrix. And you room the factor that we still, come this very day, obtain that emotion in our gut when we fight an A chord yes, really hard. That’s due to the fact that of you, and also everyone reading this to know that. You space the reason. Thank you.