Edward Lodewijk "Eddie" Van Halen (born January 26, 1955) is a Dutch-born American musician, songwriter and producer. He is best known as the lead guitarist, keyboardist and co-founder of the hard rock band Van Halen. He is often considered one of the world's greatest guitarists. Allmusic guide has described him as "Second only to Jimi Hendrix, undoubtedly the most influential, original, and talented rock guitarist of the 20th century." In 2011, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Van Halen number 8 in the list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists. In 2012, Guitar World's poll named him as the greatest guitarist of all-time.
Born January 26, 1955, in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, Edward Lodewijk van Halen is a son of father Jan van Halen, a clarinetist, saxophonist, and pianist, and mother Eugenia. Eugenia van Halen was originally from Indonesia, a former Dutch colony; she was half Dutch and half Indonesian. Edward's middle name "Lodewijk" was derived from composer Ludwig van Beethoven (Lodewijk is the Dutch version of Ludwig). Edward continued this naming tradition by naming his son Wolfgang Van Halen after composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. In February 1962, the Van Halen family moved to the United States, settling in Pasadena, California.
Eddie and his older brother Alex learned to play the piano as children. The brothers were shuttled from Pasadena to San Pedro to study with an elderly man who taught them classical piano. Eddie and Alex hated the commute, but continued as their mother would discipline them if they refused to go. Eddie revealed in an interview that he never could read the music; he learned from watching and listening. During recitals of Bach or Mozart, he would simply wing it. Afterward, the judges would comment that he had an interesting interpretation of the classical piece; Eddie thought, "What? I thought I was playing it correctly!" However, playing the piano did not prove to be challenging or interesting to him — he once said in an interview. Consequently, while Alex began playing the guitar, Eddie bought a drum kit and began practicing for hours day after day.
After Eddie heard Alex's performance of the The Surfaris' drum solo in the song "Wipe Out", he grew annoyed that his brother had overtaken his ability and decided to switch and begin learning how to play the electric guitar. He stated 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 notes the importance of supergroup Cream, holding their improvisation in high regard, considering '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". Eddie has stated: "I've always said Eric Clapton was my main influence, but Jimmy Page was actually more the way I am, in a reckless-abandon kind of way."
Eddie and Alex formed their first band with three other boys, calling themselves The Broken Combs, performing at lunchtime at Hamilton Elementary School in Pasadena. Eddie would later say that this was when he first felt the desire to become professional musician. Eddie was in the 4th grade.
Formation of Van Halen
Van Halen, originally called Genesis with bass player Mark Stone, changed their name to "Mammoth" when they discovered there was already a band from England with the name Genesis. The band consisted of Eddie Van Halen on guitar and lead vocals, his brother Alex on drums, and bassist 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. Eddie quickly became frustrated singing lead vocals, and decided they could save money by letting Roth into the band. Michael Anthony soon after replaced Mark Stone on bass. The group opted to change the name of the band because David Lee Roth suggested that the last name of the two brothers "sounded cool." Roth also revealed in an interview that he thought that changing the name would give the group "staying power; would people think it was a name? A place?"
At one point the group even considered naming themselves after the Black Sabbath song Rat Salad, before deciding on Van Halen. The band originally began playing cover material, ranging from pop to disco, before settling on original material. In 1976, band supporter Rodney Bingenheimer invited Kiss bassist 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. Even Kiss manager Bill Aucoin passed on it. One rainy night in May 1977 at the Starwood Club, 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 which they would accept 24 hours later. Their self-titled debut album was recorded in mid-September to early October 1977 and was released on February 10, 1978.
David Lee Roth
Van Halen released a total of six albums with vocalist David Lee Roth: Van Halen (1978), Van Halen II (1979), Women and Children First (1980), Fair Warning (1981), Diver Down (1982) and 1984 (1984). However, the band had trouble working together as a cohesive unit. According to Gene Simmons' book Kiss and Make-Up, Eddie Van Halen approached Simmons in 1982 about possibly joining Kiss, replacing Ace Frehley. According to Simmons, Eddie did so chiefly due to his personality conflicts with Roth.
Simmons and Alex persuaded Eddie to remain in Van Halen, while Kiss replaced Frehley with Vinnie Vincent, and shortly afterwards the band released the album 1984, which yielded the band's first #1 hit "Jump". Other singles released from the album performed well, particularly "Hot for Teacher", the video for which featured a skimpily dressed model playing the part of a female elementary school teacher and school-age boys portraying younger versions of the band members. The album peaked at #2 on the Billboard charts, behind Thriller by Michael Jackson, on which Eddie also played.
Jimmy Page said at the time: "For my money, Eddie Van Halen was the first significant new kid on the block. Very dazzling". In 1982, Eddie was invited by producer Quincy Jones to contribute the guitar solo for Michael Jackson's recording for Thriller's "Beat It". Van Halen improvised and integrated for the recording the familiar Van Halen-styled guitar solo bridge in the new song. Part of rock lore was that credit for his work on the noteworthy track would be sufficient and Van Halen declined the payment he was offered for his performance.
With the arrival of former Montrose singer Sammy Hagar in July 1985, the band's sound changed somewhat to adapt to the strengths of the new vocalist, as Eddie's keyboard playing became a permanent fixture, heard in songs such as "Dreams" and "Love Walks In". Even on the more guitar-driven songs, Eddie's performances became looser, less aggressive, and some said more thoughtful, while others said more commercial. The change in sound and pace prompted many fans, both positively and negatively, to refer to the band as "Van Hagar" or "Sam Halen". However, tensions within the band again arose over identity and artist direction, and Hagar, like Roth earlier, departed in June 1996.
Hagar appeared on 4 studio albums with the band, 5150 (1986), OU812 (1988), For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge (1991), and Balance (1995), as well as one live album, Live: Right Here, Right Now (1993). Even though some fans of the original Van Halen were upset over both the separation of Roth and the hiring of Hagar, the band achieved something never attained by the original line-up, a #1 record. With Hagar, all four studio releases reached #1 on the Billboard charts. "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" was awarded the 1992 Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance with Vocal. And their live album Live: Right Here, Right Now peaked at #5.
Following Hagar's departure, the group briefly reunited with original singer David Lee Roth and released Best of Volume I, a greatest hits package, in October 1996. Two new songs were recorded for the album, "Me Wise Magic"—reaching #1 on the mainstream rock chart as a single—and "Can't Get This Stuff No More". However, previous disagreements resurfaced and the reunion did not last, as Roth left in September 1996, after the MTV Video Music Awards.
The band auditioned many prospective replacements for Hagar, finally settling on Gary Cherone, former front man for Extreme, a band also represented by Van Halen's manager. Cherone predicted that the new line-up would last 'ten years', however the Van Halen III (1998) album was poorly received. The band completed a world tour with their new single "Without You" and did go back in the studio to start on a second record. However, Cherone soon had an amicable departure, and without a lead singer, Van Halen went on hiatus.
Reunion with Hagar and Roth
In 2004, Van Halen returned with Hagar as their lead singer. A greatest hits package, The Best of Both Worlds, was released to coincide with the band's reunion tour. The album included three new tracks recorded with Hagar, "Up For Breakfast", "It's About Time" and "Learning to See". The band toured the U.S., covering 80 cities. On February 2, 2007, it was officially announced on the band's website that David Lee Roth would rejoin Van Halen for their summer tour. The excitement regarding the tour waned when on February 20, 2007, reports surfaced that the tour was indefinitely postponed. A previously planned compilation of Roth era Van Halen hits was shelved.
After six months and a stint in rehabilitation for Eddie, it was confirmed by the band on August 13, at a press conference in Los Angeles, that they would do a tour with the new lineup from late 2007-2008 across North America, with worldwide touring and a new album proposed to follow. Persistent rumors had long indicated the Van Halen brothers were in talks with Roth to rejoin the band for a tour and/or new material. Van Halen's then 15-year old son Wolfgang was to play bass in Van Halen in the fall, replacing Michael Anthony. Van Halen claimed his son's presence would have a positive effect on the band.
Suffering from lingering injuries from past high-risk acrobatic stage antics and crashes, Eddie Van Halen underwent hip replacement surgery in November 1999, after his chronic avascular necrosis, which he was diagnosed with in 1995, became unbearable. In April 2001, Eddie confirmed that since May 2000, he had been undergoing treatment for tongue cancer. The subsequent surgery removed roughly a third of his tongue. He was declared cancer-free in May 2002. Since the 2004 tour, Eddie Van Halen had largely disappeared from the public eye, with the exception of occasional appearances such as the 14th annual Elton John Academy Awards party and a performance at a Kenny Chesney concert. In December 2004, Eddie attended "Dimebag" Darrell Lance Abbott's funeral, and donated the black and yellow guitar featured on the Van Halen II album inlay, stating that it was always a favorite of Dimebag's. The guitar was put in Darrell's Kiss Kasket and was buried with it.
On December 5, 2005, Eddie's wife, Valerie Bertinelli, filed for divorce in Los Angeles Superior Court, after four years of separation. On March 8, 2007, Van Halen announced on the official band website that Eddie was entering rehabilitation for unspecified reasons. However, both Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony have made statements indicating that Eddie's personality had changed due to alcohol abuse. Van Halen emerged from rehabilitation and appeared publicly as an honorary official during the April 21, 2007 NASCAR event at Phoenix International Raceway. He also unveiled a new Fender Stratocaster with a paint-job made for the NASCAR races before the ceremony. In 2007, Eddie was honored in the Xbox 360 version of Guitar Hero II. A player receives the "Eddie Van Halen" achievement for hitting 500 or more notes in succession.
Van Halen toured the U.S. and Canada from September 2007 until summer 2008. On October 6, 2008, it was reported that Eddie Van Halen proposed to his girlfriend Janie Liszewski, an actress and stuntwoman who became Van Halen's publicist in 2007. He proposed to her while vacationing in Hawaii. The two married on June 27, 2009 at his Studio City estate, with his son and ex-wife Valerie in attendance. The rocker's brother, Alex Van Halen, officiated the ceremony, while his son served as best man. On January 1, 2011, Eddie attended Valerie Bertinelli's wedding, along with his son Wolfgang. In mid-January 2011, he attended the winter NAMM Show to present his new Wolfgang guitars, sharing the Fender booth with fellow guitar player Yngwie Malmsteen.
Van Halen released their twelfth studio album, A Different Kind of Truth, on February 7, 2012: their first album for 14 years and their first album with David Lee Roth since 1984.
In August 2012, Eddie Van Halen underwent an emergency surgery for a severe bout of diverticulitis. His recovery time is four to six months, causing Van Halen to postpone their Japanese tour, which was originally scheduled to begin in November 2012.
Style and influence
Eddie van Halen's approach to the guitar involves several distinctive components. His use of two-handed tapping, natural and artificial harmonics, vibrato, and tremolo picking, combined with his rhythmic sensibility and melodic approach, have influenced an entire generation of guitarists. The solo in "Eruption" was voted #2 on Guitar World magazine's readers poll of the 100 Greatest Guitar Solos.
The instrumental "Eruption" showcased a solo technique called tapping, utilizing both left and right hands on the guitar neck. Although Van Halen popularized tapping, he did not, despite popular belief, invent the tapping technique. The tapping technique in blues and rock was being picked up by various guitarists in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Duane Allman, Frank Zappa and Ace Frehley, tapped with a pick in the early 1970s. Steve Hackett used tapping to play Bach-esque keyboard passages on the guitar in the early 1970s. Larry Carlton also had a tapped note at the end of his solo on the song Kid Charlemagne.
Queen's Brian May also used the tapping technique, which he picked up in America in the early 1970s, on songs such as "It's Late" from the News Of The World album. From a January 1983 Guitar Player Brian May interview,
George Lynch has said in an interview that he and Eddie saw Harvey Mandel tap at the Starwood Club in the 1970s. From a March 2009 Metal Den George Lynch interview,
Early Van Halen stage photographs, and demo and bootleg recordings from 1976 and before, do not indicate Eddie using any tapping techniques. Eddie's comments about how he came across the tapping technique vary from interview to interview. This is one interview excerpt,
Eddie also employs tapping harmonics. He holds the pick between his thumb and middle finger, which leaves his index finger free for tapping and also makes for easy transitions between picking and tapping. In support of his two-handed tapping techniques, Van Halen also holds a patent for a flip-out support device which attaches to the rear of the electric guitar; this device enables the user to play the guitar in a manner similar to the piano by orienting the face of the guitar upward instead of forward.
Van Halen (a self described "tone chaser") achieved his distinctive tone, known as the "Brown sound", by using the EVH "Frankenstrat" guitar, a stock 100-watt Marshall amp, a Variac (to lower the voltage of the amp to keep the same tone as an amplifier running full-blast at lower volumes) and effects such as an Echoplex, an MXR Phase 90, an MXR Flanger and EQs. Van Halen constructed his now legendary Frankenstrat guitar using a Boogie Bodies factory "2nd" body, Charvel neck, a single vintage Gibson PAF humbucker pickup sealed in molten surfboard wax done at home in a coffee can to reduce microphonic feedback, This also warped the bobbin of the pickup. a pre-CBS Fender tremolo bridge (later to be a Floyd Rose bridge) and a single volume control with a knob labeled "tone". Eddie has used a variety of pickups including Gibson PAF's, 1970s Mighty Mites, DiMarzios and Ibanez Super 70s. Eddie was using Mighty Mite pickups in 1977 club photos, just prior to the recording of the first Van Halen album. Mighty Mite pickups were OEM pickups made by Seymour Duncan and were copies of DiMarzio Super Distortion pickups and can be identified by their lack of bobbin holes. Seymour Duncan started advertising pickup rewinding services In late 1977/early 1978 and apparently rewound a Gibson PAF for Eddie around the early 1978 period.
The now famous single pickup, single volume knob guitar configuration was the chosen platform due to Van Halen's lack of knowledge in electronic circuitry, primitive wire soldering skills, and his disappointment in not finding an adequate, durable bridge and neck pick-up combination on his own. Upon installing the humbucking pickup he did not know how to wire it into the guitar circuit, so he wired the simplest working circuit to get it to function.
His later guitars include various Kramer models from his period of endorsing that company (most notably the Kramer "5150", from which Kramer in its Gibson-owned days based their Kramer 1984 design, an unofficial artist signature model) and three signature models: the Ernie Ball/ Music Man Edward van Halen Model (Which continues as the Ernie Ball Axis), the Peavey EVH Wolfgang (which has been succeeded by a similar guitar called the HP Special), and the Charvel EVH Art Series, on which Eddie does the striping before they are painted by Charvel.
In an interview he gave to Guitar World magazine in July, 1985, Van Halen states that his "brown sound" is "basically a tone, a feeling that I'm always working at ... It comes from the person." He continues, "If the person doesn't even know what that type of tone I'm talking about is, they can't really work towards it, can they?"
Eddie used a volume technique in the instrumental "Cathedral". He hammered notes on the fretboard with one hand while rolling the volume knob with the other. This altered the attack and decay of the notes so they mimicked the sound of keyboards. This "volume swells" sound (also known as "violining", because of the way it sounds) was originally popularized by 1970s progressive rock bands like Genesis (Steve Hackett), Focus (Jan Akkerman), Yes (Steve Howe), and Rush (Alex Lifeson) but was usually performed with a volume pedal, at a slower pace. "Cathedral" also employs an electronic delay, with the delay set at 400 ms and the delayed note set at the same amplitude as the original note. Most of the composition's notes come from hammering on the notes of a major 5th string barre chord (ascending and then descending) and replicating this pattern up and down the neck of the guitar. The end result of this technique made the composition sound as if it is being played on a church/cathedral organ.
Eddie Van Halen built his guitar (Black and White) by hand, using an imperfect body and a neck bought from Wayne Charvel's guitar shop. The body and neck were constructed by Lynn Ellsworth of Boogie Bodies guitars, whose parts were being sold by Wayne Charvel at the time. Eddie installed a humbucker in the bridge position essentially creating a Fat Strat. In 1979, Eddie began to play a black, rear loaded Charvel with yellow stripes. This was later replicated by Charvel along with the black and white striped model and the red white and black model (EVH Art Series Guitars). He also used a stock unmodified Ibanez Destroyer on a lot of the tracks on Van Halens first album such as You Really Got Me and Runnin' With the Devil. This same Ibanez Destroyer was later modified and nicknamed by Van Halen fans as "The Shark" guitar. Another mostly stock Ibanez Destroyer painted red/orange was borrowed from Chris Holmes from W.A.S.P. for the recording of most of the Women and Children First album.
In 1979 Eddie's original guitar was repainted with a layer of red (with stripes left unpainted to reveal the original black and white underneath). Eddie also changed the neck, removed part of the pick guard and eventually installed a Floyd Rose vibrato unit. The guitar is known both as a "frankenstrat" and as the "Frankenstein." Fender issued a replica of the guitar in relic form at a retail price of $25,000 in 2007. A "new" (non-relicced) Frankenstrat was available through the Charvel company for significantly less, but it was discontinued. This Fender/Charvel series was the first time Van Halen had consented to the commercial release of a guitar with his signature graphics on it.
In 1983, Eddie began to use a brand new Kramer guitar with artwork similar to its predecessor and with a hockey-stick or "banana" headstock, which came to be known as the "5150." This guitar was rear-loaded (no pick guard), had a Floyd Rose vibrato unit and a neck that was later electronically mapped in order for it to be copied on the later Music Man and Peavey signature models. This guitar was last used on the track "Judgment Day" on the For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge album. Various versions of it can be seen in the music videos for "Panama","When It's Love" and the concert video, Live Without a Net. The guitar itself was a variant of a Kramer Pacer, although not a model that was technically available at the time.
It was painted with Krylon paints by Van Halen and used through the OU812 tour, after which it was "retired." However, Eddie did break out the guitar for use on the 2004 reunion tour, although the neck had finally failed and had apparently been replaced. A copy of this guitar was available (although not with Van Halen's permission) through the current manufacturer of Kramers, Music Yo, a subsidiary of the Gibson company, sadly Gibson ended the Music Yo business and Kramer is just known as a "Gibson Sister Company". In 2012 the Gibson company again began producing the "1984" model Kramer. These guitars did not feature the custom graphics of the 5150 guitar, as the striped EVH graphics are trademarked by Edward Van Halen.
Eddie has used a Steinberger GL-2T guitar with TransTrem on several songs, including "Get Up" and "Summer Nights" (from 5150). It was custom painted with the "Frankenstein" graphics. He has also used Kramer and Peavey model guitars fitted with the Steinberger TransTrem unit.
In the early 1990s, Ernie Ball produced an EVH signature "Music Man" guitar, and Eddie used this on For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge and Balance albums. This guitar is still commercially available under the "Axis" name, and retains all of the original features of the Edward Van Halen model. Although rumours abound of a personal falling-out between Edward and the Ernie Ball company's Sterling Ball, the official reason for the cessation of the commercial relationship was that Edward was upset that Ernie Ball could not produce enough of this guitar to meet demand.
Eddie named his line of Peavey signature Wolfgang guitars after his son, Wolfgang. The guitar itself was similar to the previous Axis line, but with a slightly altered shape and many additional options available in Peavey's much larger custom shop. These guitars included a device called a "D-Tuna" which enabled a guitarist to tune the low E string down to D with a slight turn of a knob attached to the end of the bridge.
In 2003, at the NAMM show, the relationship between Peavey and Eddie began to strain. Peavey constructed a glass enclosed stage for Eddie in which to play for VIP's at 2 p.m. Eddie arrived late, shocking fans there with his disheveled appearance, as he immediately went upstairs and initially refused to play. After an hour of negotiations, Eddie came down while fans, who had lined up for hours prior to the appearance, roared with approval. Eddie ended up spending his short time on stage, talking about Wolfgang guitar production and his promise to take a keen interest in quality control. Eddie left, having only played a few notes and small riffs, much to the dissatisfaction of the fans and Peavey. The end came in 2004, when Peavey company parted ways with Van Halen, reportedly because Eddie launched an on-line sale of hand patterned (by Edward) Charvel guitars, sold by the name of the "EVH Art Series Guitars", while he was still contractually obligated to Peavey. The guitars sold for large sums on eBay, and were essentially replicas of his famous "Frankenstrat" guitars, played by Van Halen mainly during the David Lee Roth era of the band. Eddie also launched Frankenstein replicas as noted above, which are the only Van Halen guitars currently endorsed by Eddie.
Most recently Eddie has collaborated with Fender guitars to produce a replica of the Frankenstrat. Eddie and Chip Ellis of the Fender Custom Shop teamed up to produce a guitar priced at each. Also, Eddie has collaborated with Fender to launch his own EVH brand of guitars, amps, and musical instrument equipment, starting with his new EVH Brand 5150 III amplifier. Eddie now uses prototypes of his new EVH Brand Wolfgang, which is an updated version Eddie's Peavey Wolfgangs but with new pickups, knobs, a thinner but very elaborate quilted maple top to allow the basswood the dominant tone, providing more tonal resonance but with a balanced high sustain. Also, the new Wolfgang is equipped with an Original Floyd Rose. In addition, the new guitar has a slightly altered headstock. This is because this was Ed and Hartley Peavey's original design for the headstock, which Eddie had patented without the scoop on final version of the Peavey Wolfgang. He has been seen with three new Wolfgang guitars, first a sunburst one, then a black one which he stated he liked less than the sunburst one and now he uses a white one, the best sounding one out of the three prototypes according to Ed.
The EVH Wolfgang was planned for initial sale to the public in early 2009, and is now commercially available to purchase. As of February 2012 Eddie Van Halen has released different variations of the Wolfgang Guitar, for instance, there is an option called the "Stealth" it has all black hardware, and an Ebony fretboard. Since NAMM 2011 the Wolfgang Hardtail was introduced with either the aforementioned "Stealth" style or the standard Maple Fretboard/Chrome Hardware option. Eddie has also released the EVH Wolfgang USA Custom, similar to the Wolfgang Hardtail but with a bone nut rather than a locking one, also has a Les Paul style control layout.
On 2012's A Different Kind of Truth, a EVH Wolfgang Stealth was used for most songs. A Collings D2H appears in “As Is,” a solo and some overdubs on "You and Your Blues" were a Stratocaster following a suggestion by producer John Shanks, and a Ripley - fixed by Steve Ripley himself after years out of use - on “Blood and Fire”, which was originally called "Ripley" after the guitar used to record the demo.
In 2011 Eddie Van Halen donated the Frankenstein 2, a replica of the original guitar that was occasionally used on the 2007/2008 David Lee Roth reunion tour, to the National Museum of American History of the Smithsonian Institution.
Eddie's main amplifier in the early years was a 100 watt Marshall amplifier that had a 12301 serial number, which dates it to the 1967-1968 transitional period at Marshall when the circuit of the 100 watt Marshall 1959 changed gradually from the "Bass" circuit to the "SuperLead" circuit. Eddie's main Marshall's original circuit had an 820 ohm/0.68 uf resistor/capacitor pair on the cathode of Valve(Tube) 1 and the same on the cathode of Valve(Tube) 2. Eddie's main Marshall had a white knob installed at the back of his Marshall head, as seen in the 1978 world tour Japanese leg photos and the Van Halen II studio photos from late 1978. Photos of Eddie's main Marshall in the 1990s show that the white knob had been removed.
For Van Halen I, a single Celestion speaker cabinet was used and a variac set to around 90 volts was also used on Eddie's main 100 watt Marshall head, mainly to lower the amplifier's volume. The volume control and all other controls on his Marshall head were set to maximum or 10. Eddie's Van Halen I recorded guitar tracks were re-amped by using the Sunset Sound studios live reverb room. The first Montrose album was recorded in this way by Ted Templeman and Donn Landee who also produced and engineered the Van Halen I album. Van Halen I was recorded in Studio 1 at Sunset Sound and Van Halen II was recorded in Studio 2 at Sunset Sound.
From the mid-1980s, Eddie has used a real time re-amping or Master/Slave slaving amplifier setup that was originally designed by Bob Bradshaw and was published in the September 1986 issue of Guitar World Magazine, with the first amplifier being a Tube Amplifier and the second amplifier being a H&H MOSFET solid state power amplifier. Between 1993 and 2004 Eddie was sponsored by Peavey Electronics to use their 5150 Amplifiers, which he had a part in designing. Following the ending of this relationship, Peavey renamed the amplifier as the "Peavey 6505", with slightly updated styling but original circuitry. Eddie is now sponsored by Fender and has debuted his new amp called the 5150 III. The 5150 III features three channels with their own independent controls, a four-button foot-switch and his famous striped design on the head. In 2011 there will be an inexpensive 5150 III, 60 watt, 2 speaker, combo amp and 50 watt miniature head in production.
Floyd Rose system
A crucial component of Van Halen's style is his use of the Floyd Rose Locking Tremolo, released in 1977. Early tremolo bars allowed the guitarist to impart a vibrato to a chord or single string via movement of the bar with the picking hand, but the slackening of the strings when the bar was heavily depressed could lead to detuning. The addition of the locking bolts at the nut and bridge kept the strings taut and allowed for drastic depression of the tremolo bar to create effects such as the dive bomb. Van Halen went on to collaborate with Floyd Rose on improvements to Rose's device.
Eddie Van Halen pioneered the mainstream use of the TransTrem system on the Steinberger line of guitars on "5150", most notably on the songs "Summer Nights" (locking the tremolo arm in different positions throughought the song; essentially shifting the guitar into several different tunings during the course of the song) and "Get Up" (where the tremolo bar on the TransTrem is pulled up and down, causing entire chords to shift up and down). Eddie also used the TransTrem on "Me Wise Magic" off of Best of Volume I and on "Fire In the Hole" off of "Van Halen III" where the songs go through several tuning changes while retaining the same chord voicings. The TransTrem system allows for the effect of an instant "capo", increasing the pitch of all strings by up to a minor third or lowering the pitch by as much as a perfect fourth, as well as giving the player the ability to "whammy" entire chords in-tune.
Edward Van Halen is owner of US 4656917 . The main claim is for a supporting member on the back of a stringed instrument allowing the musician to play and/or fret the instrument in new ways.
He is also owner of US 7183475 , which is the patent for the D-Tuner he invented to enable a non-floating Floyd Rose equipped guitar to quickly change the tuning of the low E string by a whole step.
Another patent he owns is US D388117 this is the patent for the headstock design for the EVH Wolfgang guitars.
Eddie van Halen has appeared on several projects outside of his eponymous band.
- In 1978, Eddie Van Halen appeared on another Ted Templeman / Donn Landee collaboration. Nicolette Larson's debut album featured Ed on the track "Can't Get Away From You".
- Eddie van Halen was invited by Quincy Jones to play guitar on the song Beat It, from Michael Jackson's 1982 album, Thriller. Steve Lukather of Toto played the main guitar riff and rhythm, while Eddie played an improvised guitar solo.
- In 1983, Eddie collaborated with Queen guitarist Brian May on the Star Fleet Project, a three-track EP consisting of a rock styled rendition of the theme to the popular anime children's show, a May penned track (Let Me Out), and an improvised blues track (Blues Breaker).
- In 1984, Eddie recorded several instrumentals for a movie called The Wild Life. Some of those recordings used ideas that showed up later in Van Halen songs such as "Good Enough", "A.F.U. (Naturally Wired)", "Right Now", and "Blood and Fire". However, only "Donut City" was included on the soundtrack album, which was released on vinyl and cassette, and never made it to CD format.
- Also in 1984, he provided the score for the 1984 television film, The Seduction of Gina.
- He played bass on Sammy Hagar's 1987 solo album I Never Said Goodbye.
- Also in February 1987, he appeared on Saturday Night Live as a guest musician with G. E. Smith and the Saturday Night Live Band when Valerie Bertinelli hosted the show. About twenty seconds into the performance, G. E. Smith could be seen telling Eddie, "Go faster!" Eddie Van Halen also appeared in one sketch with Valerie Bertinelli on that evening's show, which actually featured the Robert Cray Band as its scheduled musical guest.
- In 1989 he played bass on the opening track, "Twist the Knife" from Steve Lukather's debut album, as well as giving the guitar part which was taken from an outtake from the 5150 album titled "I Want Some Action". The main riff was also later used by Eddie Van Halen in the 3 album for "Dirty Water Dog".
- In 1993, he co-wrote the riff of a song with Black Sabbath members, Tony Martin, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler called "Evil Eye" on the Cross Purposes album, but he wasn't credited due to record company restrictions.
- He has also done soundtrack work for movies such as Over The Top (Winner Takes It All, a collaboration with Sammy Hagar), Twister (the instrumental Respect The Wind), The Wild Life (one song was reused in the movie Back to the Future), and Lethal Weapon 4 (The track Fire In The Hole from Van Halen III)
- In 1998 he performed guitar solos for the Roger Waters song "Lost Boys Calling" from the film The Legend of 1900.
- He has recorded with Dweezil Zappa, Jeff Porcaro, and Thomas Dolby.
- In July 2006, Eddie Van Halen recorded two new instrumental tracks (Rise and Catherine) which debuted in an unusual format: in a pornographic feature entitled Sacred Sin directed by a friend of the guitarist, well known adult director Michael Ninn. These tracks have since surfaced on the internet. Eddie also composed some minor uncredited piano interludes in the feature.
- In 2009 Eddie played a cameo role in the seventh season premier of Two and a Half Men where he plays the main riff from As Is off of A Different Kind of Truth for Charlie after he exits the mens bathroom. Eddie explains to Charlie that one never knows when inspiration will occur, hence him taking his guitar into the bathroom. In this instance, Eddie admits that the inspiration was "two burritos and a root beer float."
- In 2010 Eddie Van Halen appeared on Lopez Tonight and gave George Lopez one of his Wolfgang Guitars.
- In 2013 Eddie Van Halen appeared on two tracks of LL Cool J's album Authentic "Not Leaving You Tonight" and "We're The Greatest"
Hollywood Walk of Fame
Eddie Van Halen is on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work with electric guitars next to Slash and Jimi Hendrix.
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Image from Discogs