Van Halen was the soundtrack of my adolescence: loud, brash, hormonal. Certain albums take me back to very specific points in my life. When I hear 1984, I remember listening to it as I played Wizardry on my family’s Apple II+. I blasted 5150 on my Walkman to drown out the sound of the lawnmower as I waged my weekly battle against the lawn at my home in Florida. I’d record hours of MTV on a VCR just in the hopes of catching VH videos.
Van Halen was exactly the right band for that time in my life. At the center of it all was Eddie Van Halen, the virtuoso who, much like Jimi Hendrix, bent his instrument to his will and made it sound like no one else had played it before. He was fast, but that speed was also matched with incomparable melodies that twisted and turned. His guitar work was the ivy that encompassed the columns of the rock-solid rhythm section of his brother Alex and bass player Michael Anthony, making the entirety of the architecture more stunning to behold. And when it came time for a solo, Eddie simply set the ivy on fire.
Simply put, Eddie is without a doubt on the Mount Rushmore of guitar rock gods. He has been and always will be one of the giants on whose shoulders all others will stand.