RIP Eddie Van Halen 1955 – 2020

Text by Dawoud Kringle

On Tuesday, October 6th, 2020, Edward Lodewijk “Eddie” Van Halen died of cancer at the age of 65.

In 1978, I was listening to the radio, and the DJ of the local rock station announced that he was going to play something from the debut album of a band named Van Halen. Then Eruption came on. As Van Halen’s jaw dropping display of chops smashed through the speakers and seared itself into my ears, I stared at the radio, unable to believe what I was hearing.

It was obvious that, for rock guitarists everywhere, the bar was raised, and the rules of the game had changed forever. Van Halen exploded onto the music scene like a horde of Vikings, taking no prisoners. Throughout the four and a half decades that followed, there were changes in the band’s music and lineup, tumultuous infighting among the members of the band, and plenty of controversy.

But Van Halen’s amazing and original guitar work and innate sense of musicality remained a constant. He was also an innovator in guitar design. He’d designed and built his own guitars, produced a unique sound, and influenced the guitar industry. Anyone who plays the electric guitar owes him an immense debt.

On behalf of MFM and DBDBD, I salute the memory of Eddie Van Halen.