I started playing guitar in 1982, and for a teenager learning rock guitar there was no one who loomed larger. The story goes that Edward started out on drums but switched to guitar when his brother Alex could play “Wipeout” better than he could. By the time I was learning, “Eruption“, the stunning guitar solo from the first Van Halen album, had become the guitarists’ version of what “Wipeout” was to drummers in the 1960’s: the benchmark test of your skill and mettle. And EVH was unavoidable, all over the radio and MTV and pouring out of car speakers in the high school parking lot. Pros learned to play like him or consciously try not to.
But what I still love most about Eddie Van Halen’s playing and music is the writing: brilliant melodic riffing and sunny pop melodies always delivered with a wicked grin and sense of fun. And his solos still surprise with their inventiveness, melodicism, and of course the casual virtuosity.
In Eddie’s honor, here’s a transcription and lesson video on one of the easier songs in the VH repertoire, including a melodic guitar solo with minimal shred demands.