Eddie Van Halen
Van Halen in 2015
Edward Lodewijk van Halen
January 26, 1955
|Children||Wolfgang Van Halen|
|Relatives||Alex Van Halen (brother)|
|Origin||Pasadena, California, U.S.|
Edward Lodewijk Van Halen (born January 26, 1955) is a Dutch-American musician, songwriter, and producer. He is the main songwriter and founder -- with brother and drummer Alex Van Halen, bassist Mark Stone, and singer David Lee Roth -- of the American hard rock band Van Halen. In 2012, he was voted number one in a Guitar World magazine reader's poll for "The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time".
Born in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Edward Lodewijk van Halen is the son of Dutch father, Jan van Halen, a clarinetist, saxophonist, and pianist, and East Indies-born Indo (Eurasian) mother Eugenia van Halen (née van Beers). from Rangkasbitung, Banten. Van Halen's middle name, "Lodewijk", is after composer Ludwig van Beethoven, "Lodewijk" being the Dutch equivalent of "Ludwig" (and the name of van Beethoven's grandfather). He continued this tradition by naming his son Wolfgang after composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
In February 1962, the family moved from Nijmegen to the United States, settling in Pasadena, California. Both Eddie and his older brother, Alex, are naturalized U.S. citizens. The brothers learned to play the piano as children starting at the age of six.
They commuted from Pasadena to San Pedro to study with an elderly man, Stasys (Stanley) Kalvaitis who taught them classical piano. Although they hated the commute, they continued as their mother would discipline them if they refused to go.
Van Halen revealed in an interview that he was never able to read music. Instead, he learned from watching and listening. During recitals of Bach or Mozart, he would improvise. From 1964 through 1967, he won first place in the annual piano competition held at Long Beach City College. Afterward, the judges would comment that he had an interesting interpretation of the classical piece. Van Halen's view was, "What? I thought I was playing it correctly!" However, according to one interview, playing the piano did not prove to be challenging or interesting to him. Consequently, while Alex began playing the guitar, Eddie bought a drum kit and began practicing for hours every day.
After Eddie heard Alex's performance of The Surfaris' drum solo in the song Wipe Out, he decided to switch instruments and began learning how to play the electric guitar. According to Eddie, 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.
Eddie Van Halen acknowledged the importance of supergroup Cream's "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." "I've always said Eric Clapton was my main influence," Van Halen said, "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, where Eddie was in the fourth grade. Eddie would later say that this was when he first felt the desire to become a professional musician.
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 instrumental "Eruption" was voted No. 2 in Guitar World magazine's readers poll of the 100 Greatest Guitar Solos. Despite his massive success, Van Halen has never fully learned to read music.
The 1978 instrumental "Eruption" by Van Halen showcased a solo technique called tapping, using both left and right hands on the guitar neck. Although Van Halen popularized tapping, he did not invent the tapping technique which had been used infrequently by various guitarists in blues and rock in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.
George Lynch said in an interview that he and Van Halen saw Harvey Mandel tap at the Starwood in the 1970s. Van Halen's accounts of how he came across the tapping technique vary. In one interview with Guitar World, he said:
I think I got the idea of tapping watching Jimmy Page do his "Heartbreaker" solo back in 1971. He was doing a pull-off to an open string, and I thought wait a minute, open string ... pull off. I can do that, but what if I use my finger as the nut and move it around? I just kind of took it and ran with it.
Van Halen 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.
Van Halen holds a patent for a flip-out support device that 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 has used a variety of pickups including Gibson PAFs, 1970s Mighty Mites, DiMarzios and Ibanez Super 70s. He 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. Seymour Duncan apparently rewound a Gibson PAF for Van Halen around early 1978.
His later guitars include various Kramer models from his period of endorsement for 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 Van Halen does the striping before they are painted by Charvel. His current deal is with Fender, making the EVH series of striped guitars, Wolfgang guitars, and EVH amps.
In an interview in 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. 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?" In an interview with Billboard magazine in June 2015, he states that with the expression "brown sound" he actually tried to describe the sound of his brother Alex Van Halen's snare drum, which he thought "...sounds like he's beating on a log. It's very organic. So it wasn't my brown sound. It was Alex's." 
On August 29, 1980, Eddie met actress Valerie Bertinelli at a Van Halen concert in Shreveport, Louisiana. They married in California on April 11, 1981; and have one child, a son, Wolfgang (born March 16, 1991).
After his father's death in December 1986 and his brother Alex's eventual sobriety in April 1987, Eddie Van Halen struggled with drug and alcohol abuse on and off for twenty years. In April 1988, he was hospitalized with dengue fever while on a wedding anniversary vacation in Australia. On September 2, 1994, he made his first attempt at sobriety.
Suffering from lingering injuries from past high-risk acrobatic stage antics and crashes, Van Halen underwent hip replacement surgery in November 1999, after his chronic avascular necrosis, with which he was diagnosed in 1995, became unbearable. In April 2001, Van Halen confirmed he had been undergoing treatment for tongue cancer since May 2000. The subsequent surgery removed roughly a third of his tongue. He was declared cancer-free in May 2002.
Since the 2004 tour, Van Halen had largely disappeared from the public eye, with the exception of occasional appearances including the 14th annual Elton John Academy Awards party and a performance at a Kenny Chesney concert. In December 2004, Van Halen attended "Dimebag" Darrell 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 he was buried with it.
On December 5, 2005, Van Halen's wife, Valerie Bertinelli, filed for divorce in Los Angeles Superior Court, after four years of separation, which was finalized on December 20, 2007. On March 8, 2007, Van Halen announced on the official band website that Van Halen was entering rehabilitation for unspecified reasons. However, both Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony have made statements indicating that Van Halen's personality had changed due to alcohol abuse.
Van Halen emerged from rehabilitation and appeared publicly as an honorary official during a NASCAR race at Phoenix International Raceway on April 21, 2007. He unveiled a new Fender Stratocaster with a paint job made for the NASCAR races before the ceremony. In 2007, Van Halen was honored in the Xbox 360 version of Guitar Hero II.
On October 6, 2008, Van Halen proposed to his girlfriend, Janie Liszewski, an actress and stunt-woman who became Van Halen's publicist in 2007. The two married on June 27, 2009, at his Studio City estate, with his son Wolfgang and Bertinelli in attendance. Eddie's brother Alex officiated the ceremony, while his son served as best man. On January 1, 2011, Eddie and Wolfgang Van Halen attended Bertinelli's remarriage.
In August 2012, Van Halen underwent an emergency surgery for a severe bout of diverticulitis. His recovery time was four to six months, causing Van Halen to postpone their Japanese tour, which was originally scheduled to begin in November 2012.
Eddie has donated 75 of his personal guitars to The Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation stating: "I wanted to give back to the community, and especially kids in need who want an instrument but didn't have the opportunity I had. I wanted to donate instruments because I have so many guitars and nobody would take them... until we found Mr. Holland's Opus."
In a 2015 interview, Van Halen stated that he had been sober since 2008.
Eddie Van Halen has appeared on several projects outside of his eponymous band.
[...] However, when Alex started to then learn to play drums, overtaking Eddie's own abilities, the younger of the two switched to guitar instantly becoming attached to it – locking himself away in his bedroom as a teen to practice, and walking around the house with his guitar strapped on yet unplugged. [...]
...]In an interview with Guitar World, Eddie explained his practice ethic during his teenage years. 'I used to sit on the edge of my bed with a six-pack of Schlitz Malt talls. My brother would go out at 7 p.m. to party and get laid, and when he'd come back at 3 a.m., I would still be sitting in the same place, playing guitar. I did that for years - I still do that.'[...]