Eddie Van Halen Adored Only One Song In Peter Gabriel’s Career

Eddie Van Halen Adored Only One Song In Peter Gabriel’s Career | I Love Classic Rock Videos

via Billboard / Youtube

The 80s was a decade of booming hair metal anthems, dazzling pyrotechnics, and music videos on constant rotation thanks to MTV. Eddie Van Halen, the guitar legend synonymous with shredding riffs and high-energy performances, thrived in this era.

He wasn’t just a metal god, though. His musical tastes extended beyond the genre, with a surprising favorite album residing firmly in the pop realm.

In a 2023 interview with Classic Rock, Eddie’s son Wolfgang revealed a hidden gem in his father’s record collection. Despite his undeniable metal prowess, the elder Van Halen held a deep appreciation for “Red Rain”, the opening track on Peter Gabriel’s iconic album So.

This wasn’t just any pop song, though. Wolfgang explained that his father admired “Red Rain” for its innovative spirit.

Learning from the Legends

The 1970s were a crucial period for Eddie’s musical development. He found inspiration in the groundbreaking work of guitarists Ritchie Blackmore and Tony Iommi, two figures who helped define the sound of heavy metal at the beginning of the decade.

Blackmore, known for his soaring solos in Deep Purple, and Iommi, the riff mastermind of Black Sabbath, instilled in Van Halen a love for technical mastery and heavy grooves. These influences fueled his own playing as he honed his skills, experimenting with techniques that would later become his signature style.

The decade also marked the birth of Van Halen, the band that would propel him to stardom. Their self-titled debut album and its follow-up arrived in 1978 and 1979, respectively. While these early albums hinted at the band’s potential, it was the 1980s that would see Van Halen truly blossom into the cultural behemoth we know today.

Dominance in the ’80s

The 1980s were a transformative decade for the legendary guitarist. Bursting from the vibrant Los Angeles music scene, he redefined heavy metal with his unique blend of technical mastery and infectious groove.

His playing wasn’t just fast and furious – it was deeply musical. Tracks like “Eruption” from their 1978 debut showcased his technical brilliance, but Van Halen craved more. His ultimate triumph was his ability to cross genre boundaries.

Van Halen’s band scored a number-one hit in 1983 with the iconic anthem “Jump”, proving that metal could be catchy and accessible. This wasn’t just a band for headbangers anymore.  Furthermore, his legendary solo on Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” cemented his status as a household name.

By working with the biggest pop star of the era, Van Halen made rock music more appealing to mainstream audiences, proving it wasn’t just the domain of a specific subculture. He had single-handedly broadened the genre’s reach.

Eddie’s Diverse Palette

One of the most fascinating things about Eddie Van Halen was his ability to bridge seemingly opposing worlds. His music, his playing, and even his cultural influence embodied a unique paradox. He was a metal god adored by headbangers, yet his music resonated far beyond that subgenre. This diversity extended to his personal taste as well.

While undeniably a metal icon, Van Halen also had a surprising fondness for pop music. One of his favorite albums came from a completely different world: Peter Gabriel’s 1986 masterpiece, So

As mentioned, this fact was revealed by his son, Wolfgang, in a 2023 Classic Rock interview..  Listing So as one of his own all-time favorites, Wolfgang explained it held special meaning because it was also a cherished album of his father’s.

He considered it Peter Gabriel’s finest work and admitted it was difficult to listen to now without a pang of loss, as it served as a powerful reminder of his father. Eddie particularly loved “Red Rain”, and they even had a sweet father-and-son moment with it.

A Shared Legacy

Wolfgang shared this touching glimpse into his bond with his father through a shared love of So. He also attributed the album as one of his own all-time favorites, especially since its significance goes deeper. 

“This is one of my favourite albums because it was one of my father’s favourite albums of all time,” he recalls. A cherished memory paints a vivid picture: “I’ll never forget him coming up to me one night with these huge headphones and going, ‘Wolf, put these on.'” 

He then describes his father putting on the headphones and blasting the opening track, “Red Rain,” at full volume. Wolfgang emphasizes the immersive experience, stating, “The soundscape of it is incredible – everybody should do that at least once in their life, put an amazing pair of headphones on and crank “Red Rain”.”

Wolfgang’s praise for So is well-deserved. The album is widely considered a masterpiece, with exceptional songwriting evident throughout. And “Red Rain” perfectly exemplifies the album’s brilliance. While some might criticize the record for its “yuppie appeal”, there’s no denying So pushed the boundaries of art-pop further than ever before.