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Warren's Tribute to Eddie Van Halen

Lana
 Lana
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Oct. 6, 2020 10:45 PM
Warren Haynes

RIP Eddie Van Halen

There are a handful of people with any musical instrument that we can credit with actually changing the course of the instrument. Obviously Charlie Parker changed the alto saxophone. Coltrane changed the tenor saxophone. Jaco Pastorius changed the electric bass. John Bonham changed the world of rock drumming. I could go on but you get the point. It’s an amazing feat for any artist to have that kind of impact and influence on any instrument…..But let’s talk about the electric guitar. The advent of the electric guitar changed music, arguably, more than the the advent of any other instrument. The endless combinations of sounds and techniques allowed everyone to seek their own voice which opened up a whole new world of musical expression and possibilities. Maybe I’m biased but in my opinion the electric guitar saved modern music. So when we’re talking about a small pantheon of people who changed the electric guitar that’s a major feat. Monumental!
I still remember the first time I heard Van Halen. It was at a party in Asheville, my hometown. The first VH album had just come out and people were raving about the music and about Eddie’s guitar playing in particular. Never ready to add someone new to my list of who I consider to be great guitarists, I was a bit resistant but ready to give it a chance. At first listen, I can admit now, I was quite impressed but still not ready to give in to the hype. It was obvious that what he was doing was exceptional but he was using a lot of distortion so I wasn’t convinced that he was really pulling it off in a technical sense…. until I heard Eruption. Pretty damn precise! That’s when it hit me. It was a new day in Rock ’n’ Roll. It was a new day in electric guitar playing. Then later when I heard Spanish Fly (from VH2) GOD DAMN!!! He can play that shit on acoustic guitar.
Fast forward. No matter what your tastes, especially if you’re of a certain age, maybe VH’s music was not your thing but you had to admit it was the real deal! I personally never looked at EVH as being a major influence on my own playing as my style was fairly developed by the time I discovered his music but I was always a big fan of his virtuosity. Also I should point out that, as is the case with the emergence of any highly innovative, groundbreaking new music or new musician, it would soon follow that the airwaves would become inundated with a gazillion copycats, most of which paled in comparison to the trendsetter. This has happened in virtually every moment in history where someone changed the course of a genre or where someone changed the course of an instrument. It has also happened historically with songwriting. When someone comes along with a fresh innovative approach to writing songs suddenly copycats appear out of the woodwork. That’s the way it was with Van Halen, both with Eddie’s playing and with the music itself. This inundation left a bad taste in the mouths of a lot of avid music fans, myself included, but again Eddie was the catharsis for change- not to be blamed for what followed- and VH was the real deal.
I only got to see Van Halen, the band, perform twice- once in the early 80’s in Asheville and once a few years ago when they reformed the original band. All four members of Gov’t Mule happened to be in LA at the time and we were invited to the Forum to see what they called a “friends and family” dress rehearsal show. Being there watching Van Halen in a 20,000 seat arena with only 700 lucky attendees was quite an experience. Eddie played brilliantly. The whole band sounded great, as they did when I first saw them several decades earlier. It was something I'll always remember.
I never knew Eddie- never had the opportunity to meet him- but as someone who has studied music since I first got the “bug” as a kid I am compelled to say that the loss of Eddie Van Halen today is monumental! The list of those who changed the trajectory of the electric guitar is a short one and many arguments can be made that I am leaving some out (which I don’t doubt) but in that regard Eddie is joined by the likes of Charlie Christian, Les Paul, and Jimi Hendrix and very few others. Eddie changed the electric guitar. Eddie changed Rock ’n’ Roll. Rock ’n’ Roll changed the world. Any questions?- WH

EddieVH

 

This topic was modified 1 year ago by Lana
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Topic starter Posted : October 8, 2020 2:56 pm
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