Patti Smith’s Poem About Eddie Van Halen Might Be The Best Tribute Yet

Patti Smith by Ben Köhler via Wikipedia. Eddie Van Halen from Patti's Instagram.

With yesterday’s sad news about the death of guitar legend Eddie Van Halen at 65, fans and musicians from around the world have taken to social media to share their stories about Eddie’s legacy (among them our own staff writer, Chris Krovatin). But while the tributes posted by his former bandmates David Lee Roth, Sammy Hagar, and Michael Anthony are touching, perhaps the best tribute so far might be the poem written by “punk rock poet laureate” Patti Smith.

Smith posted an image of a sweat-soaked Eddie Van Halen, mouth open in a joyous scream, with the following captions:

This is
Eddie Van Halen,
howling at the stars,
combing the
stratosphere,
howling for the
children,
the burning fields,
then free, flies
two-handed,
straight into the
celestial realm
where all
is music.”

Brings a tear to your eye

It was Eddie’s son Wolfgang who announced his father’s death last night, posting the following message via his Instagram:

“I can’t believe I’m having to write this, but my father, Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, has lost his long and arduous battle with cancer this morning.

“He was the best father I could ever ask for. Every moment I’ve shared with him on and off stage was a gift.

“My heart is broken and I don’t think I’ll ever fully recover from this loss.

“I love you so much, Pop.”

To say that there would be no heavy metal without Van Halen, and specifically without Eddie’s playing, is a gross understatement. His style of playing, specifically the use of his ‘tapping’ guitar method that was coined on the band’s track “Eruption,” were second only to the riffs of Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi in how much they helped define the style and approach of heavy metal guitar. Guitarists like Pantera’s Dimebag Darrell were massive fans of Van Halen’s virtuosic playing; in fact, immediately before his own murder, Dimebag and his brother Vinnie Paul said, “Van Halen” to one another, a mantra that had come to represent music for them.

Everyone at The Pit sends their heart out to all of Eddie’s friends, family, fans and collaborators during this difficult time. Read our full tribute post here.

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Words by Chris Krovatin