The passing of Edward Van Halen on October 6, 2020 was further tragedy in an already horrific year. For many guitar players around the world, his musical influence was life changing. As a teenager learning to play guitar, he was my hero. I remember the first time I heard him play. A friend of mine called me on the phone and played “Eruption” over the phone. I was blown away and remember saying, “that guy is better than Ace Frehley” lol.
I never got to meet him in person. I was always “one degree of separation” from meeting him. The closest being Terry Kilgore, my guitar teacher during my teenage years. During my “Hollywood” days in Lunatic Fringe, Swampy our bass player, worked at “Rock and Roll” 7-Eleven, down the street from Guitar Center on Sunset Blvd. One night, EVH came into the store. Swampy, knowing what a huge Van Halen fan I was, told Eddie about me, and asked for an autograph on my behalf. Eddie obliged and signed a genuine 7-Eleven brown paper bag. I have kept it safe all these years.
Van Halen’s impact, influence and legacy will live on. It is sad that he has passed but this quote from Steve Vai adds a positive perspective:
“Feeling deep sadness and overwhelming appreciation. The appreciation and love for him is bigger though.
Let’s take a minute and try to imagine our world if he never showed up. It’s unthinkable.”