Van Halen – In Concert – US Festival – May 29, 1983 – Band Soundboard –
I don’t know what to say – it seems every few days we’re losing someone we looked up to, enjoyed, were amazed by or learned from.
Losing Eddie Van Halen (mercifully not to COVID, but insidiously to Cancer) is especially poignant because he was such a huge influence to so many people and was such a pivotal figure in Music. As a tribute, I am running Van Halen’s appearance at the 1983 US Festival, recorded on May 29, 1983.
There isn’t anything to add, nothing that hasn’t been said repeatedly ever since hearing the news earlier today. I guess the best summing up comes via my friend Chris Morris, who turned in this heartfelt obituary or Variety today:
“Eddie Van Halen, whose innovative and explosive guitar playing kept the hard rock band that bore his family name cemented to the top of the album charts for two decades, died on Tuesday morning after a long battle with cancer. He was 65.
Van Halen’s son Wolf announced the news. “He was the best father I could ever ask for. Every moment I’ve shared with him on and off stage was a gift. My heart is broken and I don’t think I’ll ever fully recover from this loss,” Wolf Van Halen tweeted.
Born in the Netherlands and raised in Pasadena, Calif., he founded Van Halen with his older brother, drummer Alex; the siblings were joined by vocalist David Lee Roth and bassist Michael Anthony in the first recording lineup of the group, which exploded after star-making gigs at such West Hollywood clubs as Gazzarri’s and the Starwood.
It was instantly apparent from “Eruption,” the solo showcase on Van Halen’s self-titled 1978 debut album for Warner Bros., that Eddie Van Halen was an instrumentalist to be reckoned with. In a mere one minute and 42 seconds, the axe man detonated a dazzling display of fretboard tapping, ringing harmonics, lightning-fast licks and smeared, dive-bombing effects.
Edward Lodewijk Van Halen was born Jan. 26, 1955, in Amsterdam. His father played the clarinet, saxophone, and piano, and both he and his brother Alex were schooled on the latter instrument from the age of six. They continued their studies after the family moved to Pasadena in 1962.
Though Eddie — who never mastered sight reading — would perform at classical piano recitals, he sought something contemporary and took up the drums, while Alex began playing guitar. The two teenage musicians would ultimately switch off their instruments; Eddie claimed Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page, the respective guitar stars of Cream and Led Zeppelin, as his principal inspirations.
After high school years spent in local party bands, the brothers founded a new quartet — which they unwittingly named Genesis, ignorant of the English group’s existence — in 1972 with singer Roth, whose PA system they were renting for gigs, and bassist Mark Stone, who was replaced by Michael Anthony.
An attention-grabbing date at Gazzarri’s on the Sunset Strip by the rechristened Van Halen led to a demo session with Gene Simmons of KISS, who in the end opted out on working further with the band. However, as bassist Anthony recalled at the group’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, the act was signed after Warner Bros. chief executive Mo Ostin and producer Ted Templeman caught the band at a 1977 show at the Starwood. As detailed in Templeman’s recent autobiography, Roth’s position in the band was tenuous, owing to his never-strong singing ability, and the producer considered bringing in Hagar even at that early stage. However, Roth — whose onstage antics, along with Eddie’s blazing guitar work, were the focal points of the band’s live show — retained his position.”
Thanks Chris for your brilliant words.
And gratitude for Eddie Van Halen, being on the planet – in the right place – at the right time.
You will be missed and you will forever be remembered.