This week the world lost the guitar god Eddie Van Halen after he died of throat cancer at the age of 65. He has been remembered as a one-time musician with remarkable talent.
Van Halen’s albums and tracks are already legendary, but Eddie’s lightning-fast finger and fret tapping technique was revolutionary. But Eddie and Van Halen have a lot more to offer than most people realize.
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10 Van Halen was first called The Broken Combs
Van Halen has had countless incarnations with eight different members in its nearly 50-year history. But they also had a lot of identity changes, originally known as Broken Combs, when Eddie and Alex formed a band in high school in 1
The Broken Combs lasted two years before moving up a few notches on the Hard Rock scale. In 1972 they called themselves The Trojan Rubber Co before moving to Genesis. Given the name Genesis used by a popular English band, they changed again, this time to Mammoth, but once again found that it was used, albeit this time by a smaller LA band. They eventually settled in Van Halen in 1974, reportedly spurred on by singer David Lee Roth, neither of the brothers, despite the obvious connection to their last name. Apparently one of the other name options was Rat Salade. Dodged bullet!
9 Gene Simmons wanted to call her Daddy Longlegs
Van Halen and Gene Simmons teamed up in 1977 after the Kiss singer saw them live with well-known radio DJ Rodney Bingenheimer. Simmons produced a 10-song demo tape for Van Halen before breaking their self-titled debut album in 1978.
The group hoped the partnership with Simmons would help them gain a foothold in the industry, but ultimately it didn’t prove fruitful. Amid it all, Simmons reportedly wanted them to rename themselves again, this time to “Daddy Longlegs” for reasons that were not disclosed. In short, Simmons couldn’t get a record deal for Van Halen so they went their separate ways. They also wisely stuck to the Van Halen name. But who knows, maybe the name arachnid grew on us?
8th Eddie & Alex were born in Amsterdam
They have always been seen as a hard rock band with groundbreaking guitar solos from Pasadena, LA. But it is often not known that both Eddie and Alex were born in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and immigrated to the United States with their parents in their early years.
The brothers’ father, Jan, was actually a Dutch jazz musician. Jan was a talented pianist, clarinetist and saxophonist. In 1962, Jan and his wife Eugenia moved the family to LA, encouraged by stories from family members who had previously emigrated. They went with only 75 guilders, which was about $ 40 at the time.
Interestingly, Van Halen’s song ‘Amsterdam’ on the 1995 album ‘Balance’ was not written by the Amsterdam-born brothers, but by the latter singer, Sammy Hagar.
7th Eddie met his first wife while performing on Van Halen
It’s more of a cliché, but Eddie and his first wife, Valerie Bertinelli, first met at a Van Halen concert in Louisiana. Valerie wasn’t a huge Van Halen fan either, but was pulled to the show by her brother Patrick before bumping into Eddie backstage tuning his guitar. She said it was love at first sight.
“I looked at him and he looked at me and that was it,” she said. “My heart melted.” In a similar story to “A Star Is Born,” they caught up after the concert and spent the night talking for hours.
Valerie was a relatively well-known actress on the popular US sitcom “One Day At A Time” at the time, which is why Eddie soon moved in with her in the Hollywood Hills. They married not long after in 1981 but divorced in 2007.
6th Van Halen is in the Guinness Book of Records
It may come as a surprise, but Van Halen considers the brand to be the highest-paid solo appearance by a band in the Guinness Book of Records. In 1983 Van Halen performed at the US Festival for 90 minutes, which was worth an impressive $ 1.5 million. Some fans may argue that this proves that Van Halen is the greatest rock band in the world!
Van Halen headlined Heavy Metal Day for the three-day festival organized by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak on Memorial Day Weekend in Southern California. They got top billing and cash in front of the likes of David Bowie, Stevie Nicks, The Clash and U2.
A radio station found that Van Halen was making $ 275 a second, but Eddie chided that comment when he spoke to Guitar World years later. “What he didn’t realize is that we put every penny of it into production,” said Eddie. “We didn’t make a penny when it was all over.”
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5 Eddie lost 1/3 of his tongue to tongue cancer
Eddie finally lost his battle with the disease this week, but it all started with tongue cancer in 2000. He was then operated on on his tongue, a third of which was removed. He was declared remarkably cancer-free in 2002, but has more recently suffered from throat cancer.
Eddie, known as a notoriously heavy drinker and smoker since his teens, blamed guitar picks for his tongue cancer. He claimed, “I used metal picks – brass and copper – that I kept in my mouth at the exact spot where I got tongue cancer.
“I’ve smoked and done a lot of drugs and a lot of everything. At the same time, my lungs are completely clear. This is just my own theory, but the doctors say it is possible. “In any case, losing a third of his tongue has never influenced him musically.
4th “Jump” is the band’s only number one US single
If you look up Van Halen on Spotify you will find some massive hits with over 70 million streams including “Jump”, “Panama”, “Runnin ‘with the Devil”, “Hot for Teacher” and “Ain’t” Talkin’ ‘Bout Love’ so it’s a surprise to know that only ‘Jump’ was number one in the US.
Three of the above hymns came from the monster hit album “1984”, with “Jump” getting the most attention thanks to Eddie’s ridiculous guitar solo. “Panama”, “I’ll Wait” (both from “1984”) and “Finish What Ya Started” hit number 13 on the Billboard chart and number two on the list of mainstream rock tracks. The popular 1988 track “When It’s Love” reached up to five.
Van Halen’s breakthrough hit “Runnin ‘With The Devil” may later be voted into the top 10 greatest hard rock songs of all time by VH1, but only reached 84th place in the US charts.
3 Eddie’s son was named after Mozart
It is relatively well known that Eddie’s son Wolfgang joined the band in 2006, replacing Michael Anthony as bassist as a teenager. 29-year-old Wolfgang is still part of the band today.
Little is known, however, that the inspiration for his birth name was to pay homage to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The Van Halens grew up in a musical household and their father Jan provided a background in classical music, including introducing the boys to Mozart’s works.
Interestingly, Eddie’s full name is Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, with his middle name in honor of Ludwig Van Beethoven, since Lodewijk is the Dutch version of the German name Ludwig. While Eddie formed a rock band, he had always had a bond with classical music since his youth and passed it on to his son, if only in name.
2 “1984” never went to number 1 on the charts
When you think of Van Halen albums, you usually think of 1984 when you factor in some of the singles on them. However, despite its universal appeal and longevity, the album never managed to get number one on the Billboard charts in the United States.
The big reason was that Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” couldn’t be beat. It’s worth noting that “Thriller” was released in December 1982 while “1984” came out in January 1984, but MJ’s album was number one on the Billboard chart for an astonishing 37 weeks from February 26, 1983 to April 14, 1984 . For five of these weeks, “1984” was number two, but never got MJ out of the lead.
But Eddie can take some comfort and delight in making the guitar available in the hit “Beat It” on Jackson’s album, which means that technically he took first place.
1 Eddie never technically learned how to read music
In a 2012 interview with Esquire, Eddie admitted that fact. “I went to Pasadena City College, junior college, just for music,” Eddie said. “But I never learned to read (music). For scoring and arranging, a Henry Mancini book was the Bible. And of course I never read it. “
Instead, Eddie claimed he watched his teachers’ fingers and had “good ears” to pick up the intricacies of the music. He imitated them and improvised at concerts and competitions, which he often won. It is clear that he was gifted with musical talent, but the influence of his musician father was significant. In his youth he was also tutored by the Lithuanian choir director Stasys Kalvaitis. Either way, Eddie was improvising, and it worked for him all his life.
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