Sitting here at 8:30pm. Playlist going – https://open.spotify.com/playlist/0g9UM4f0YW9ytXV8j235MR…
And processing that Eddie Van Halen is no longer with us. Like Bowie, Prince, MCA, George Michael over the last several years. Building blocks of my musical DNA, the ones that set my mind on fire when I was young. Gone.
My history with Van Halen isn’t your normal path. The first album I listened to was 1984. Jump was ok, but Panama and Hot For Teacher got my attention. Those two songs on MTV were amazing videos for a 14 year old boy. (for ALL the reasons you are thinking of.) Eddie’s guitar on “Teacher” is just insane. And the drums, Alex is a monster. But they were “just another band” to me.
This was when I became a life long fan. https://youtu.be/botO7B82kvQ
There was something unique about the chemistry Sammy had with Eddie, Alex and Michael Anthony. Van Halen was fun. There was no “posture”, no coolness, just 4 guys taking music to the fans and feeding off the energy of the room. They were having the time of their lives, and we got to be part of their fun. No pretense. No attitude. 5150 is a flawless album, not a bad/weak track on the whole album. OU812, For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge are just one notch below. (Balance, not so much.)
I was lucky enough to see 5150, OU812, Unlawful, Balance, Monsters Of Rock 1988 and 2 shows in Detroit when they got back together in 2007.
I can see you, the ones who are looking sideways at me thinking, “Dude, DLR is the better Van Halen.” My appreciation of the DLR era didn’t happen till 1989. My first radio internship was at Z107, a legendary classic rock station in Houston. I pulled carts and answered phones for Donna McKenzie. And I discovered not only the big hits from DLR but the ones that really stand out like Somebody Get Me A Doctor, So This Is Love, Unchained, Ice Cream Man and Atomic Punk. I didn’t get to see DLR with Van Halen. I saw his first solo tour, and IMO Cinderella blew him off the stage that night in Houston. But I have appreciation for the DLR era and their place in history.
There is no question that Eddie has a place in musical history beside Clapton, Hendrix, Les Paul, BB King, The Edge, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and Santana. The ones that changed the game. The Innovators. He took us someplace new. These ones are rare in music.
I was just holding out for one more ride, one more live show with Sammy. And the emptiness that I feel, is that I won’t get to see Eddie again with Frankenstein in his hands and Sammy right by his side. But we have 10 albums we can go visit. (I never visit III, sorry Gary.)