The Most Influential Guitarist In Eddie Van Halen’s Life
Eddie Van Halen Dies at 65 after cancer battle - CNN /YouTube
The entire landscape of rock music seemed to shift when Eddie Van Halen burst onto the scene. While he might not have been the first guitar hero in the world, his groundbreaking innovations on the fretboard were unprecedented, both during his time and enduring to the present day.
He crafted melodic pieces that took seasoned veterans years to decipher. Despite the late guitarist’s inclination for composing some of the most challenging guitar pieces in the rock repertoire, he acknowledges one guitarist as a major influence.
Indeed, legend recognizes legend as even Eddie looks up to another guitar god, and it’s none other than Jimmy Page, the iconic guitar maestro from hard rock progenitors Led Zeppelin.
“I don’t think there is anybody here who has not been affected or touched by Jimmy Page’s music, his guitar playing,” Van Halen once said of Page’s greatness.
Eddie’s Distinctive Musical Evolution and Influences
Eddie consistently upheld his distinctive style, drawing inspiration from various sources while maintaining his own unique approach.
Despite occasionally incorporating elements of blues and jazz harmony into his playing, some of Eddie’s guitar techniques were so unmistakably his own that they might as well have been trademarked. From his signature whammy bar dives to the inventive use of tapping, he carved out a musical identity that was instantly recognizable.
In his early days, Eddie wasn’t initially drawn to the guitar; it only became his instrument of choice when his brother opted for drums. Despite swiftly mastering the fretboard, he eagerly absorbed the sounds of contemporary guitar virtuosos.
Taking particular inspiration from Eric Clapton’s work in bands like Cream, Eddie emulated Clapton’s approach, favoring simplicity in effects and letting his fingers do the talking. Clapton’s influence, especially during the late 1960s with Cream, was pivotal, but another guitar legend, Jimmy Page, emerged from Clapton’s former band, The Yardbirds.
Eddie’s Profound Admiration for a Guitar Legend
Initially a session musician, Page aspired to create groundbreaking studio compositions. Progressing beyond the confines of blues, his time with Led Zeppelin showcased revolutionary approaches to both rock guitar and production.
Tracks like “Heartbreaker” and “Since I’ve Been Loving You” exemplified a fusion of taste and intensity.
Despite Eddie’s claim to cease listening to music while composing, he regarded Page as one of the most innovative guitarists in history. Expressing his admiration for Page’s influence, Eddie emphasized that no one else came close to achieving what the legendary guitarist did.
“I don’t think there is anybody here who has not been affected or touched by Jimmy Page’s music, his guitar playing. So the guy is a fucking legend, you know. He influenced me and everybody that I know. What more can I say?” Eddie declared to The Hollywood Walk of Fame.
A legend inspiring another
As Van Halen was honing their musical craft during the twilight of Led Zeppelin’s era, Eddie found himself drawing inspiration from Page. It was during a live performance in California that the future guitar god of Van Halen, in the process of observing Page’s guitar wizardry, adopted Page’s pull-off technique.
In a serendipitous moment, Eddie instinctively manipulated the guitar nut with his left hand, inadvertently giving birth to the groundbreaking tapping technique that would become a hallmark of his illustrious career.
While Eddie would go on to pioneer various innovative techniques, he remained cognizant of Page’s foundational role in shaping the sonic landscape of hard rock guitar. The convergence of these two eras, with Van Halen emerging as a force just as Zeppelin was concluding their journey, symbolized a passing of the torch and a continuum of rock evolution.
In this dynamic interplay of influences and innovations, Eddie Van Halen’s incorporation of Page’s techniques stands as a testament to the interconnectedness and evolution within the realm of hard rock guitar.