A guitar solo from Eddie Van Halen was indeed an eruption.
The legendary Van Halen guitarist, who died Tuesday after a long battle with throat cancer at age 65, will forever live on through his raging riffs in songs like “Eruption,” “Jump” and “Panama” amongst many others. (And don’t forget that’s him on Michael Jackson’s iconic “Beat It.”)
The Recording Academy honored the guitar great, calling the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer a “genius” and a “true guitar hero.”
“During his legendary career, GRAMMY Award winner Eddie Van Halen contributed to some of the world’s most iconic music,” the statement from Recording Academy president and CEO Harvey Mason Jr. read. “His explosive guitar playing and approach to the musical process solidified him as an undeniable force in his field and forever established his place as a true guitar hero. The world is lucky to have witnessed Eddie’s genius as a guitarist, and we know he will influence and shape rock music indefinitely.”
Tributes poured in Tuesday, with many rockers calling out the Van Halen founder for influencing their own music, including Mötley Crüe’s Nikki Sixx, Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello and even metal band Pantera.
In honor of the revolutionary guitarist, here are just seven of his many standout solos played on his beloved Frankenstrat.
Eddie is fully in the spotlight in “Eruption,” which feels like the longest minute and 42 seconds ever — in a good way. The track has landed on countless superlative lists, including the top spot in Guitar World’s best guitar solos of all-time list. The oft replicated, but never duplicated, power chord is evidence of his genius and just when you think it’s about to end, you’re suddenly tricked and sent into a trance of rushing riffs in a symphony of pure rock.
“Running With the Devil”
It’s so nice, it’s best when you hear it twice. Eddie’s moment in “Running With the Devil” comes after the second and third chorus and while brief, running just about four measures, it’s one of his most iconic. There’s also an unreleased version of the song, with different vocals from David Lee Roth and an extended solo from Eddie recorded in 1977.
The crowd goes wild in this performance video of “Right Now,” and it’s easy to see why. The 1991 track about living in the moment is mostly keyboards until Eddie comes in wailing — reminding you to do just that.
“Hot for Teacher”
Beyond the wild music video for “Hot for Teacher,” the very recognizable rumble from Alex Van Halen kicks off the song, but Eddie Van Halen’s lightning shredding in the middle that gets the A+.
One of the band’s most notable earworms, Eddie Van Halen rips through his solo riff making it looks effortless but high-octane. There’s also a moment in the song with a car rumble — Eddie’s 1972 Lamborghini Miura S, which was reportedly parked in the studio for the recording.
The most successful single from the band, “Jump” features two special moments of Eddie’s genius: The guitar solo as well as a keyboard solo from the multi-talented musician. In 2014, Van Halen told Rolling Stone that despite its commercial success, the group was not into the track at first. “When I first played ‘Jump’ for the band, nobody wanted to have anything to do with it,” he said. “Dave said that I was a guitar hero and I shouldn’t be playing keyboards. My response was if I want to play a tuba or Bavarian cheese whistle, I will do it.”
“When It’s Love”
It’s true love when Eddie wails during “When It’s Love,” the band’s power ballad from 1988. His power play shows prowess in the range of his musicality, able to show deep emotions — and a bit of lust with his expert licks.
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