Lex Neon on Eddie Van Halen (Van Halen)

Lex says Eddie Van Halen was the first rock “guitar god” of his generation that didn’t come from the 60s. Lex also blames Eddie Van Halen for giving him the idea of ditching classical piano for rock guitar. Happy birthday Eddie, who was born January 26.

I was 12 years old, and wanted to be a concert pianist. I was deeply into Tchaikovsky and Bach. I wore a pin on my sweat shirt that read “Mostly Mozart.” My weekends were in front of the piano, or the radio. I still loved rock and pop music with a passion, but my talent lay in memorizing complex classical music pieces, and spitting them out to teachers. I spat for two years. I was bored and started to rebel.

One day, I heard a song on the radio called “Running With The Devil” from a “new” local L.A. band called Van Halen. The track pulsated from the dynamic rhythm section. Guitar chords paint the song’s moody picture. “I live my life like there’s no tomorrow,” croons the singer. They could play, and they could harmonize.

Then came Eddie’s gorgeously wicked guitar solo.

I was taken by the solo’s melody, and his performance. It arched and ached with such beauty. It sounded “classical” to my ears. It was something different from Clapton (blues), Page (blues), Hendrix (???), and Kath (blues).

I wanted to play Eddie’s solo on the piano. I took the record money that I kept in a bust of Beethoven (given to me by my Aunt Elizabeth), and boogied over to Record Retreat. After forking over $6.87, the debut album by Van Halen was mine. I “piano-learned” the album by ear, and transposed what I learned to guitar.

It was fun pretending to be Eddie. My very first guitar blisters came from trying to copy “Eruption.” “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” was also fun to learn. “Jamie’s Cryin'” taught me about bending notes to get emotional effect. Their version of the Kinks klassic “You Really Got Me” taught me a lot about keeping rhythm while attempting a solo.

Long story short, I played “Little Dreamer” by Van Halen instead of a short set of Bach inventions. I was asked by my (so-called) professor not to come back unless I “unlearn those vulgar pop songs.” I sang a chorus of “Happy Trails” and ran as far as I could from Professor Snooty.

But whatever. When you get the chance, dig just how fresh this album sounds almost 30 years later. For me, it doesn’t get any better than that first Van Halen album. To my ears, it sounds like escape. It sounds like fun. And it reminds me of why I made the guitar FIRST choice.

Happy birthday, Eddie! Thanks for helping to free my young mind!

(Lex Neon is the musical mastermind behind the music of indie sunshine pop / rock band Poppermost.  For more info, go to http://www.poppermost.com/)

Note: The date listed on the album shown below is for the remastered version. The original was released February 10, 1978.

Currently listening :
Van Halen
By Van Halen
Release date: 19 September, 2000

~ by Poppermost on September 6, 2008.

One Response to “Lex Neon on Eddie Van Halen (Van Halen)”

  1. Dear Eddy I’m Carlo the Queen from brescia town in Italy, how stay^^??I hope that stay well …and would like to see you by me in brescia ……..consider yopu invitet!sincerly your’s ! carlo

    p.s.: 3337355462

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