Column: Eddie Van Halen dies Tuesday at 65

Ryan Meyer

Eddie Van Halen, hard rock legend and inspiration for countless guitarists after him, died Tuesday at the age of 65.

As the lead guitarist for California band Van Halen, he was one of the main figures of a reemergence of a brand of rock music that was easily accessible to fans of all genres.

One cannot say a song sounds like the ‘80s without either having lived through it or having first listened to the song “Jump.” Those synthesizers, played by Van Halen himself, suggest nothing other than a car ride to the arcade in the family Dodge Caravan.

Although Van Halen’s music isn’t for me, I have to acknowledge the genre-hopping genius of a song like “Jump.” There is a reason the song was number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for five straight weeks.

Van Halen’s songwriting prevents the tune from being cast as rock, pop or metal, or even rock pop metal. That’s the mark of a great and memorable song.

Van Halen will inspire young guitarists for decades to come with riffs in songs like “Eruption” and “Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love.” His playing is the type to convince someone to pick up a guitar that’s been gathering dust around the house and sit down to try and learn it.

For many music fans, Van Halen’s flying-fingers, screaming-amps style is what comes to mind when they think of guitar or rock music. Although countless phenomenal lead guitarists came before him, there is perhaps no one who more embodied the role of a lead guitarist. The combination of his stage presence and expertise of his instrument are possibly unmatched in popular rock music since.

Some of rock and roll’s icons have taken to social media to lament Van Halen’s death, including Gene Simmons of KISS, the members of Aerosmith, and Van Halen’s former bandmates David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar.

Eddie Van Halen’s legacy will survive through his guitar playing and songwriting, and through the passion of his loyal fanbase. All fans of music should respect the talent and innovation he introduced to the mainstream.

 

Ryan Meyer is a sophomore journalism major. He can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]