Andy Greene, writing for Rolling Stone, has the story that has just gutted me. Eddie Van Halen has passed away at 65. When I heard the news, I cried.
I love this little tidbit in Greene’s story about what he wanted his guitar playing to do to people.
Were it not for his titanic influence, hard rock after the late 1970s would have evolved in unimaginably different ways. He may not have invented two-handed tapping, but he perfected the practice and introduced it to a mass audience. Yet despite his complete mastery of the electric guitar, he never learned to read music.
“I don’t know shit about scales or music theory,” he told Rolling Stone in 1980. “I don’t want to be seen as the fastest guitar in town, ready and willing to gun down the competition. All I know is that rock & roll guitar, like blues guitar, should be melody, speed, and taste, but more important, it should have emotion. I just want my guitar playing to make people feel something: happy, sad, even horny.”
His sound was everything. All the heroes of my youth are leaving and I’m left with my memories of playing air guitar to “Eruption” and playing “Jump” in my high school “air band.” My heart goes out to his family and loved ones who lost more than just a rock guitar god.