Leo'z Guitarz n' Stuff

Edward Van Halen

Edward Van Halen was, is and will always be the king of rock n' roll guitar - period - end of story.

Edward Van Halen was, is and will always be the king of rock n' roll guitar - period - end of story.

I know, I know - Eddie hasn't done much to set the world on fire in the new millenium, but the fact remains that there has not been a single guitar player since that has had any kind of impact near the magnitude that Eddie did when he burst on the scene in early 1978. Those of us who lived through and witnessed this time period - as players - first hand know that this is not over stated at all.
It all started for me on February 18, 1978. It was a Saturday night, and the local rock radio station, WDVE, would always play a new release from start to finish every Saturday at 11pm. I turned on the radio at a couple minutes past 11 - just in time to hear the beginning of Eruption. My jaw hit the floor - this had to be double or triple tracked - there was no freakin' way anyone was playing something like this without some kind of studio trickery.
Then there was that tone - that glorious "brown" tone of an overdriven Marshall that to this day remains many a tone chaser's ultimate quest.
The response was so overwhelming that WDVE did an encore performance a couple nights later on Monday, February 20, 1978, once again playing Van Halen 1 in it's entirety. This time, I made sure I tuned in right on time - cassette recorder ready - I didn't want to miss a minute of this again.
I was just as floored by the encore as I was at first listen. I knew - sure as I was breathing - that this band - and this guitar player - were going to be the new kings of rock n' roll very shortly. I was right!
Even though I had recorded the whole album, I bought a copy a few days later. That was when I saw what would be the first incarnation of Eddie's infamous "Frankenstien" guitar. It was the coolest guitar I had ever seen - a white Stratocaster with random black stripes and a single humbucker pickup. Not only was this guy blowing people away with his chops, but he was playing a guitar that no one else had. All of my musician friends and I knew we were witnessing something special happening.
The next order of business was to find out if this band - and this guitar player - could hold their own on a stage. The painful wait to see Van Halen live began. Back then, news traveled slow. We had no Internet, there was absolutely zero TV coverage of hard rock and only one radio station in the tri-state area would even play heavy music. We had to rely on magazines like Creem, Circus and Hit Parader for any kind of music news.
It was finally announced that Van Halen would be opening for Black Sabbath at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena on September 2, 1978. I also read a statement around that time in Circus of a fan that had attended the Texas Jam, where Van Halen had opened the show, which said that the best part of the show was "finding out that Van Halen was even better live than on the album". That was great news, but it seemed to make the wait for the show even longer.
September 2, 1978 - the day of the concert was finally here. My friend Randy and I took an early bus into the city and arrived at the arena around 4pm. In those days, arena shows were festival seating, so those who got in first got the best seats. When the doors finally opened at 6:30, we made a beeline for the stage, and ended up in the second row directly in front of Eddie's ten Marshall stacks. I was 14 at the time and not very big, so I held on to the stage barricade for dear life until the show started.
At 7:30, the lights went down. "Pittsburgh Pennsylvania - Are you ready for VAN HALEN?" Seconds later, Van Halen ripped into On Fire and my world was forever changed. Nowadays, it's common to see a wall of Marshalls with only one actually functioning. I'm here to tell you that back then, every one of Ed's ten Marshalls were pumping air - it literally blew the hair on my head back, and it was SO loud that the rest of the band was reduced to a faint drone behind this massive wall of guitar - that glorious "brown" tone. The only time I could hear what David Lee Roth was saying was during his between song banters. For a guitar player, this is absolute perfection - it's all about the guitar. For a 14 year old guitar player like myself, witnessing Edward Van Halen in 1978 playing 10 feet in front of my face was the equivalent of a born-again christian witnessing the second coming of Christ. If you're religious and this offends you - sorry - but it is what it is. Thats my opinion and I'm stickin' to it.
On Fire was followed by I'm the One, Runnin' with the Devil, Atomic Punk, Little Dreamer, Feel Your Love Tonight and Ain't Talkin' Bout Love. Then, DLR announced "Ladies and Gentlemen - I give you the electric guitar player of the 80's - Mr Edward Van Halen". Ed then ripped into an extended version of Eruption that left every jaw in attendance hanging wide open. No one - and I do mean NO ONE at the time was playing the guitar like Edward - NO ONE. Ed was standing literally 6 feet in front of my face as he went into the tapping part of Eruption - I remember thinking "so thats how the sonofabitch does it!".
Then came You Really Got Me to end the show. 40 minutes was just not enough. Black Sabbath attempted to hold the audience's attention during their show, but they just couldn't do it. Van Halen was young and hungry, while Sabbath was on it's last leg and gasping for air. The crowd began chanting "Van Halen, Van Halen" after every song that Sabbath played, and it was apparent that we had all witnessed a changing of the guard that night - Van Halen were destined to be the new kings.
Beginning with the late, great Randy Rhoads (ironically in Ozzy's Blizzard of Oz) in 1980, there have been many great guitar players who have managed to equal or in some cases perhaps even eclipse Edward in terms of technical ability and speed, but the fact still remains that in 1978, Edward Van Halen single-handedly raised the bar by which all future guitar players would be judged - exponentially.
So, my friends, once again, please repeat after me:

Edward Van Halen was, is and will always be the king of rock n' roll guitar - period - end of story.

Charvels, Waynes, Soldanos, Marshalls and more

Previous Page  |  Site Map  |  Home  |  Next Page

Vintage Charvel Guitars, San Dimas Charvels, Wayne Guitars, Gibson, Fender, J-Frog, Soldano Amps, Marshall Amps and more ...

Website by LG Webs