Eddie Van Halen

Edward Lodewijk Van Halen (born January 26, 1955) is a Dutch-American musician, songwriter and producer. He is the main songwriter, and founder — with brother Alex Van Halen, singer David Lee Roth, and bassist Michael Anthony — of the American hard rock band Van Halen. He is considered one of the best and most influential guitarists in the history of rock music.


In 2011, Rolling Stone ranked Van Halen number eight in the list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists. In 2012, he was voted number one in a Guitar World magazine reader's poll for "The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time".

Born in Nijmegen, Netherlands, Edward Lodewijk van Halen is the son of Dutch father, Jan van Halen, a clarinetist, saxophonist, and pianist, and Indonesian-born Eurasian mother, Eugenia van Halen (née van Beers). Van Halen's middle name, "Lodewijk", is after composer Ludwig van Beethoven, "Lodewijk" being the Dutch equivalent of "Ludwig". He continued this tradition by naming his son Wolfgang after composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

In February 1962, the family moved to the United States, settling in Pasadena, California. Both Eddie and his older brother, Alex, are naturalized U.S. citizens. The brothers learned to play the piano as children starting at the age of six.

They commuted from Pasadena to San Pedro to study with an elderly man, Stasys (Stanley) Kalvaitis who taught them classical piano. Although they hated the commute, they continued as their mother would discipline them if they refused to go.

Van Halen revealed in an interview that he never could read the music. Instead, he learned from watching and listening. During recitals of Bach or Mozart, he would simply wing it. From 1964 through 1967, Edward won first place in the annual piano competition held at Long Beach City College. Afterward, the judges would comment that he had an interesting interpretation of the classical piece. Van Halen's view was, "What? I thought I was playing it correctly!" However, according to one interview, playing the piano did not prove to be challenging or interesting to him. Consequently, while Alex began playing the guitar, Eddie bought a drum kit and began practicing for hours every day.

After Eddie heard Alex's performance of The Surfaris' drum solo in the song Wipe Out, he decided to switch instruments and began learning how to play the electric guitar. According to Eddie Van Halen, as a teen, he would often practice while walking around at home with his guitar strapped on or sitting in his room for hours with the door locked.

Van Halen acknowledged the importance of super group Cream's "I'm So Glad" on Goodbye Cream to be mind-blowing. He once claimed that he had learned almost all of Eric Clapton's solos in the band Cream "...note for note." "I've always said Eric Clapton was my main influence," Van Halen said, "but Jimmy Page was actually more the way I am, in a reckless-abandon kind of way."

Van Halen and Alex formed their first band with three other boys, calling themselves The Broken Combs, performing at lunchtime at Hamilton Elementary School in Pasadena, where Van Halen was in the fourth grade. Van Halen would later say that this was when he first felt the desire to become a professional musician.

In 1972, Van Halen formed another band, originally called "Genesis". The name was changed to "Mammoth" when Van Halen became aware of the English progressive rock band of the same name.

Mammoth consisted of Van Halen on guitar and lead vocals, his brother Alex on drums and bass guitarist Mark Stone. Mammoth had no P.A. system of their own, so they rented one from David Lee Roth, a service for which he charged by the night. Van Halen became frustrated with singing lead vocals, and decided they could save money by adding Roth to the band. Michael Anthony later replaced Mark Stone on the bass guitar. The band opted to change its name because Roth suggested that the last name of the two brothers "sounded cool".

At one point, the band considered using the name "Rat Salade", after the Black Sabbath song of the same name, before settling on "Van Halen". The band originally began playing cover material, ranging from pop to disco.

In 1976, band supporter Rodney Bingenheimer invited Kiss bass guitarist Gene Simmons to check out a Van Halen show. Impressed, Simmons soon produced a Van Halen demo tape with recording beginning at the Village Recorder studios in Los Angeles and finishing with overdubs at the Electric Lady Studios in New York.

Looking to strike a recording contract, Simmons shopped the demo tape around, but found no success. In May 1977 at the Starwood, Van Halen was spotted by record producer Ted Templeman. Like Simmons, Templeman was impressed and quickly convinced Warner Bros. Records executive Mo Ostin to sign the band, and they accepted 24 hours later. Their self-titled debut album was recorded in mid-September to early October 1977, and was released on February 10, 1978.
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