Tragically, one of the greatest guitarists to ever grace the stage passed on October 6, 2020. Eddie Van Halen had been an innovator on the guitar and in the music world since the '70s. Most people assumed his guitar was naturally another appendage because he knew so intuitively how to make music. His success as a "guitar god" will never be forgotten, but other aspects of his rock 'n' roll lifestyle might fall by the wayside.
To honor the late, great Van Halen, many people flooded Twitter and other news sites to express their condolences and share their favorite memories. Many of the stories from his life of fame and fortune sound like they came from a Hollywood movie script - too wild and far out to possibly be real. But we assure you, these are true stories from the life of the legendary, secretive Eddie Van Halen.
Documentary and music video director Andrew Bennett recalled his time spent with the guitar god in his book Eruption in the Canyon: 212 Days & Nights With the Genius of Eddie Van Halen. The book covers the years 2004 to 2007, when an incident that seems possible only in fever dreams happened.
Bennett describes the time Van Halen jammed with Limp Bizkit. In between guitarists, Fred Durst invited Van Halen to play with them in Beverly Hills while they held auditions to fill their spot. After they played awhile, some of the people present began lighting up. Although Van Halen smoked like a chimney for pretty much his entire life, he was not a fan of weed. He abruptly got up and left, leaving behind all his equipment. Bennett said Van Halen reached out the following day to Durst to get his guitar and amps back, but when he didn't get a reply, Van Halen took matters into his own hands.
Bennett recalled in his book:
Eddie once bought an assault vehicle from a military auction. It has a shine gun mount on the back and is not legal. Eddie drove that assault vehicle through L.A., into Beverly Hills, then parked and left it running on the front lawn of the house Limp Bizkit was rehearsing in. He got out wearing no shirt, his hair in a Samurai bun on top of his head, his jeans held up with a strand of rope, and combat boots held together by duct tape. And he had a gun in his hand.
When Durst opened the door, Van Halen held the weapon to Durst's head and demanded the equipment. He continued to hold the gun to Durst's head until all his gear had been lugged outside.1,632200Shocked it's true?
He Created An Indestructible Guitar - And Hated That He Couldn't Break It
Van Halen was constantly looking for ways to improve his instruments, playing, and sound overall. To do that, he often got caught up in the moment and would sometimes break his guitars on stage. In his search for the perfect sound and guitar, his created the Wolfgang. Named after his son, a lot of the features are updated to create an almost indestructible guitar. For instance, the electronics cavity is heavily shielded and attached firmly to the volume and tone pots. Additionally, some of the wiring is different than most guitars.
In an interview with CNN, Van Halen recalled playing the Wolfgang on stage during a show and trying to break it. When he tossed it into the air and it didn't shatter, he was upset. After the show, he placed it outside in the rain for 30 minutes, and when he brought it back in it was still perfectly in tune. He said not being able to ruin the guitar that night "pissed [him] off."827174Shocked it's true?
- Photo: Epic Records3
He Secretly Contributed To - And Rearranged - Michael Jackson's 'Beat It'
One of the most fun surprises in Eddie Van Halen's career is his 20-second riff in the middle of Michael Jackson's "Beat It." According to the guitarist, he joined in on the song as a favor to Quincy Jones, and asked not to be credited or paid for his work. He also wrongfully assumed that no one would ever know it was him on the song.
In addition to being a silent contributor to the song, Van Halen helped in another way. After Jackson walked out of the studio in the middle of the session, Van Halen went on to rearrange what had already been recorded. When Jackson reentered the studio, Eddie admitted to it right away, saying, "I changed the middle of your song," knowing he ran the risk of being kicked out for touching another artist's work. Instead, Jackson gave him complete creative control and loved the changes that had been made. Clearly, so did the rest of the world.1,242298Shocked it's true?
He Buried His Original 'Bumblebee' Guitar With A Friend
Although Eddie Van Halen and guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott had an unfortunately short-lived friendship, their relationship was surprisingly deep. Just before he was shot and killed by gunfire in a nightclub, Dimebag's last words were allegedly, "Van Halen." According to his brother, Vinnie Paul, this was their code word for letting loose and having fun.
During conversations about which guitar should be lowered into the grave with the casket, Van Halen called to talk with Vinnie Paul. Van Halen brought up the fact that Dime had already shown interest in purchasing one of the famed striped guitars he played with, so he offered to make him a special one. Instead, however, Van Halen decided to give him the real deal and showed up with his famed Bumblebee guitar - the same one on the back cover of Van Halen II - stating, "An original should have an original."1,017234Shocked it's true?