Eddie Van Halen

Overview

musical style: 

photograph of Edward & Alex Van Halen

Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, (born January 26, 1955) is a virtuoso guitarist, classically-trained pianist, and founding member of the hard rock band Van Halen.

Edward, commonly refered to as Eddie, was born in Nijmegen, Netherlands to a Dutch father (Jan) and an Indonesian mother (Eugina).[1] The Dutch Roman Catholic Van Halen family moved to Pasadena, California from Holland in 1962. Eddie Van Halen immediately started classical piano training and won talent competitions as a child (although during a radio interview he said that he cannot read music). Eddie claims that one of the first things his parents did upon arriving in America was to seek out a piano teacher for him and his older brother, Van Halen drummer Alex Van Halen.

Initially, Alex began playing the guitar while Eddie studied drums. According to Eddie, while he was delivering newspapers to pay for his drum kit, Alex would practice on them. It was when Eddie heard Alex's mastery of the Surfaris drum solo in the song "Wipe Out" that he got annoyed that his brother had overtaken his ability and decided to switch and begin learning how to play the electric guitar.

Eddie was around age twelve when he started playing guitar. He was so committed to the instrument that he played it all day, every day. Sometimes, he would even skip school to stay at home and practice. Eddie claimed that he had learned almost all of Eric Clapton's solos in the band Cream "note for note" by age 14, though in other interviews he claims that in fact he could never learn to play the solos precisely and would therefore modify them to suit his style[citation needed].

In an April 1996 interview with Guitar World, when asked about how he went from playing his first open G chord to playing "Eruption", Eddie replied:

"Practice. I used to sit on the edge of my bed with a six-pack of Schlitz Malt talls. My brother would go out at 7 P.M. to party and get laid, and when he'd come back at 3 A.M., I would still be sitting in the same place, playing guitar. I did that for years — I still do that."[2]
His main influence was Eric Clapton. More recently he has also acknowledged the influence of fusion guitarist Allan Holdsworth, of whom he has said: "He's the best in my book."[citation needed]

Alexander Arthur Van Halen (born on May 8, 1953) is a drummer and founding member of the hard rock band Van Halen, along with his brother Eddie Van Halen who plays lead guitar and keyboard.

He was born in Nijmegen, Netherlands to Jan Van Halen, a Dutch father, and Eugenia, an Indonesian mother.[1] The family moved to Pasadena, California in 1962.

Both Van Halen brothers were trained as classical pianists in their childhood. Although Alex is known as a professional drummer, he began his Rock and Roll aspirations as a guitarist and his brother Ed was the percussionist.

According to Van Halen lore, while Eddie was delivering newspapers to pay for his drum kit, Alex would practice playing on them. It was when Eddie heard Alex's mastery of the Surfaris drum solo in the song Wipe Out that Eddie decided to switch and begin learning to play the electric guitar.

Alex graduated from Pasadena High School in 1971. Afterward, he attended Pasadena City College for a brief period of time taking classes in music theory, scoring and arranging. Occasionally, he would pass by Michael Anthony in the hall—the bassist who would eventually become the third pillar of the future band Van Halen.

Some of Al's early bands, all of which included Eddie, were: The Broken Combs (who performed lunchtime concerts at Hamilton Elementary School and featured Alex on saxophone), The Trojan Rubber Company, Genesis, and The Space Brothers. Among his musical influences are Buddy Rich, Keith Moon, John Bonham and Ginger Baker.

In 1972, Mammoth was formed and featured Alex on drums, Edward on lead vocals and guitar and Mark Stone on bass. By 1974, Mammoth had a new line-up. Stone had been replaced by Michael Anthony and David Lee Roth had taken over as the lead vocalist. Because of conflicts with another band by the same name, Mammoth changed their name to Van Halen and a legend was born.

The quartet paid their dues on the Southern California club circuit: Gazzari's (the first club to give them a break), the Starwood, the Whisky a Go-Go, or Walter Mitty's Rock & Roll Emporium. Within a few years, Van Halen was a club scene favorite.

In addition to his musical duties, Al was busy handling managerial duties, booking gigs, etc. for the band. In 1978, the Rock and Roll epic album Van Halen was released to much fanfare and the rest is history.

Alex's powerful and dynamic drumming style and voice are as unique and instantly recognizable as Edward's guitar sound. Alex has been the recipient of innumerable accolades and awards and is recognized by his peers and fans as one of the eminent percussionists in Rock and Roll.

The term "brown sound," which is universally linked with Edward's tone was actually coined by Alex and refers to the warmth of his own snare drum sound. A self described "musician" who eschews his Rock and Roll persona, Alex works diligently to create a very balanced accompaniment for each song.

At live shows, Alex is known for being an entertainer, performing aggressive drum solos and stage pyrotechnics.

The only non–Van Halen example of Alex's musicianship can be found on the soundtrack to the movie "Twister". The instrumental Respect the Wind (for which the Van Halen brothers were nominated for a Grammy Award in 1997 for Best Rock Instrumental Performance[2] features Alex on keyboards (with Edward on guitar) and demonstrates this musician's remarkable versatility. The song was used for the movie soundtrack Twister (film).

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Gear used by Eddie Van Halen

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