Memories Of The Band With The Passing Of The Dynamic Lead Guitarist
There always needs someone to blame for our miscreant behavior, an influencer who steers us away from the straight and narrow and down the path that can lead to partying, chasing girls (or boys, depending on one’s preference) and living like rock stars.
For a generation in the late 70s and 1980s, the rock music of Van Halen – led by the screamin’ guitar player of Eddie Van Halen – was definitely if not just someone, but something to blame.
The band certainly had an influence on me. I mean, watching those videos of Eddie swinging on a rope while playing a Jack Daniels-branded guitar on Panama, of watching him twirl around in wildly-colored clothes in Jump and especially in Hot For Teacher”on MTV had me thinking I need to dramatically turn up the fun factor in my life.
So it was with much sadness that I learned of the passing of Eddie, at age 65 of throat cancer. It was him, much more than the up-front Roth with an ego bigger than his hair, whom many of us preferred to follow.
After all, he married the cute Valerie Bertinelli from the sitcom One Day At A Time, something that made all us boys really jealous about at the time. Figuring it was a good way to meet girls, we all tried emulating Eddie’s incredible guitar licks by playing the air guitar on anything with a handle.
Personally, I preferred the music in the Roth era and was bummed to see that come to what I later learned was its inevitable end. Sammy Hagar kept the band rocking and took it to new heights in popularity, but for one thing, the videos were not as good with him as they were with Roth.
Several years later, I was invited to cover Van Halen’s 2012 reunion tour, which included Roth. It was a private show at the LA Forum, a “Friends And Family” concert. There was no swinging from a rope, Roth did not jump and spread his legs (in fact, a slick material was put down on the stage to help him slide) and Michael Anthony was replaced on bass by Eddie’s son Wolfgang.
But it was Van Halen and I was not only in the front row but was leaning against the barricades in front of the stage.
Here is a review of that show.
Thanks for all the good times Eddie and Van Halen!