Eddie Van Halen was unlike any other. An artist that defied all musical logic. The virtuoso changed music forever as he shook up the art of the guitar solo with his whiplash-inducing speed, impossible control, and innovative stylings.
Videos by American Songwriter
Two years ago today (October 6), the guitar god passed away from a lengthy battle with cancer. To celebrate his live and legacy, here are 5 electrifying live performances that he’s probably serving up in the rock and roll afterlife right now.
1. “Eruption” Live at New Haven’s Veterans Memorial Coliseum, 1986
The solo in the instrumental shredder, “Eruption,” has been named one of the 100 Greatest Guitar Solos of all time. The multi-dimensional soundscape Van Halen creates is captivating, showcasing the tapping technique that the guitarist popularized.
2. “Cathedral” Live on the Les Paul Television Special, 1988
The Les Paul welcomed Van Halen onstage during his television special, Les Paul: he changed the music in 1988. The dreamy tune, “Cathedral,” sees Van Halen master clean, and clear notes as he scales the guitar neck. The trademark Van Halen piercing wail isn’t necessary for this slice of guitar excellence.
3. “Hot for Teacher” Jimmy Kimmel Live on Hollywood Boulevard, 2015
As Diamond Dave tells Van Halen to “Light ’em up,” the guitarist delivers a screaming solo that pierces through the barreling, hard-rocking live performance. His powerhouse solo chops seem so effortless even as he winces and scrunches his face in concentration.
4. “Jump” Live on the Balance Tour, 1995
“Jump” is driven by the keyboard with those instantly recognizable notes, but the guitar solo is what everyone sticks around for when it comes to a Van Halen song. Blasting off in a shriek, it’s a short but powerful moment, holding its own against an already thundering song.
5. And just because he could… Live at US Festival, 1983
And just because he could, Van Halen electrifies, laying it all bare in this 12-minute solo to end all guitar solos.
Do you have a favorite Van Halen guitar solo? Let us know what it is. Comment below.
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