Rock Mourns The Loss Of Eddie Van Halen


The world lost one of the most important figures in rock history on Tuesday with the passing of Eddie Van Halen.

In addition to co-founding Van Halen and leading the band through five decades as one of the biggest hard rock groups of all-time, Eddie was one of the most innovative guitarists who ever lived and redefined the instrument for generations to come after him.

Much like Jimi Hendrix before him, Eddie's work caused people to see the electric guitar in a different way. Rock music could be divided into pre- and post-Van Halen eras.

Eddie found ways to make his guitar sound brighter, heavier and more powerful than any of his contemporaries. But the visceral brawn of the Van Halen guitar sound was balanced by Eddie's sophisticated ear and ambitious style of composing.

Without Van Halen, there would be no hair metal or thrash metal, progressive rock would not have...progressed, grunge wouldn't have happened at all and modern rock would be pretty unrecognizable.

News of Eddie's passing has already drawn tributes from all corners of the music industry. But just like the loss of Neil Peart in January, for rockers in particular this one really hurts.

Eddie's son Wolfgang Van Halen was among the first to publicly address his father's death.

"He was the best father I could ever ask for. Every moment I’ve shared with him on and off stage was a gift," he wrote in a tribute. "My heart is broken and I don’t think I’ll ever fully recover from this loss."

Wolfgang of course became a member of his father and uncle's band in 2006. He often shared candid photos and anecdotes about "Pop" via social media. Eddie thought the world of his son and spoke effusively of Wolfgang's musicianship in some of his final interviews.

We miss you already, Eddie.

Co-founding Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth addressed the news late-Tuesday night, sharing a shapshot of himself and Eddie waiting in the wings.

"What a Long Great Trip It's Been..." Roth wrote.

While Roth and the Van Halens have had a complex relationship through the decades, Roth has often spoken reverently of Eddie's genius. When plans for a Van Halen tour failed to materialize last year, Roth relaunched his solo career, announcing that it was unlikely Van Halen would ever return and that it was up to him to care for the Van Halen legacy going forward.

Former Van Halen frontman Sammy Hagar shared a photo of himself and Eddie together on a flight, writing that he was "Heartbroken and speechless. My love to the family."

Hagar parted ways with Van Halen for the final time in 2005. In recent years, he and longtime VH bassist Michael Anthony expressed hopes for one more Van Halen reunion for "closure."

While Hagar has admittedly been frustrated by a lack of communication with Eddie, he says that was a problem when he was in the band as well. Despite their differences, he said last September that the former bandmates have "honest love for each other."

The rumored reunion last year that never came to fruition was supposed to include Anthony. The beloved bassist and singer was in Van Halen for over 30 years and included in the lineup that helped build the band into a rock power house.

Anthony shared several photos of himself and Eddie enjoying one another's company onstage.

"No words...Heartbroken, my love to the family," he wrote.

Eddie was a big deal for everyone in rock, not just guitarists.

Dream Theater co-founder and drummer Mike Portnoy shared a photo of himself with Eddie and Wolfgang, writing that he was in "complete and utter shock" at the news.

"Very few musicians ever come along that change the entire landscape of their instrument and King Edward was one of those few," Portnoy wrote. "One of the G.O.A.T! My deepest condolences to [Wolfgang], Alex [Van Halen] and his entire family."

Megadeth bassist Dave Ellefson added, "You changed my life with your music, your band and your life's journey."

Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello wrote that Eddie was "One of the greatest, most inventive, truly visionary musicians of all time. An unparalleled titan in the annals of rock n roll. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for every spectacular note.

RAtM drummer Brad Wilk recalled where he was the first time he ever heard "Eruption."

"Eddie Van Halen was the spark that made me want to be a musician," Wilk wrote. "The first time I heard him, I was in my basement in Chicago and my brother was blasting 'Eruption' on 8-track.... it sounded like aliens were landing on Earth. I couldn’t believe my ears. His innovation was unparalleled and his rhythm playing and attack was absolute magic as well. My heart goes out to Alex, and his entire family. RIP Eddie."

Testament guitarist Alex Skolnick revealed that he was about to release a track that was "greatly influenced" by Van Halen and recorded using an instrument modeled after Eddie's iconic 'Franken-Strat.'

"Now it doesn't feel appropriate to post today, but soon..." he added. "...There's so much more to say, at a total loss for words. I can't believe I have to type this right now: RIP #EddieVanHalen."

Kirk Hammett reflected on when Metallica toured with Van Halen on the 'Monsters of Rock' tour in 1988.

"Eddie gave so much of himself to us," Hammett wrote in the caption of a photo of an EVH Phaser pedal. "His music will live on forever. My heart goes out to Eddie's family. Thank you, Eddie, and with much love and respect."

Scott Ian of Anthrax paid tribute to Van Halen in a flurry of posts, sharing images of a number of EVH memorabilia.

"He brought SO MUCH JOY to so many for so long," Ian wrote in the caption of one autographed photo of Eddie. "...I'm gutted. I hope Wolfgang and Alex and his/their families are OK."

Dillinger Escape Plan and Suicidal Tendencies guitarist Ben Weinman pointed out that "Eddie was the only guitar player I ever saw that was always smiling. The most influential guitar player of all time."

Steel Panther was contrite and sincere in its tribute: "Thank you for sharing your gifts with the world. You will be missed. Sending all our love to the family, friends and VH fans everywhere..."

Alter Bridge guitarist Mark Tremonti shared a photo of himself, Myles Kennedy, Slash and Eddie. He wrote, "I don’t think anyone will ever impact rock music the way you have, and I’m certain there will never be a greater guitar hero and legend."

Kennedy added in his own post that Eddie "showed us what was possible by pushing the envelope to dizzying heights while making it look effortless. He was without a doubt, one of the all time greats. RIP EVH. Condolences to [Wolfgang] and his family."

Shinedown frontman Brent Smith reminisced at how Van Halen changed his life when the band brought Shinedown on tour in 2003. Smith admits that he didn't grow up listening to Van Halen, but he and Eddie struck up a friendship anyway.

"He was one of the kindest, and [most] generous people I’ve ever had the honor to be around," Smith wrote. "He was also a genius, and an absolute wizard on every instrument he played. He schooled me every night, he also made me a HUGE fan..."

Kiss frontman Paul Stanley called Eddie a "trailblazer and someone who always gave everything to his music. A good soul." Gene Simmons remembered Eddie as "not only a Guitar God, but a genuinely beautiful soul."

Cynic's Paul Masvidal wrote that Eddie was his "first crush."

Bass legend Billy Sheehan is renowned for playing his bass a lot like Eddie played his guitar. It was no secret that Sheehan was one of Eddie's favorite bassists. Sheehan simply wrote, "I. Am. Devastated."

One of Sheehan's longtime collaborators, Steve Vai, shared a photo of his EVH Converses. "Never to be filled," reads his caption.

Over the summer, Alice in Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell recalled in a conversation with GibsonTV how significant an impact Eddie had on him as a child and then as a contemporary. After AIC and VH toured together in 1991, Cantrell came home to Seattle to find his manager's garage filled with guitar gear gifted to him by Eddie.

On Tuesday, Cantrell shared a photo of a black and yellow EVH guitar he has on display in his home with the caption: "Legend. Thank you for the music and inspiration, the hotel and backstage jams, adventures and laughs."

AIC frontman William DuVall wrote that it is "Hard to imagine a world without [Eddie]. So many treasured memories attached to your music, your sound, your image, your attitude. Too much to process."

Guns N' Roses's Duff McKagan shared a clip of himself listening to Van Halen I on his turntable.

Slash himself shared one photo of Eddie via Instagram and then followed up with a captionless loop of a single lit candle.

We all know what he means.