The entire guitar game was flipped on its head when Eddie Van Halen broke out onto the scene.
If you were to ask one of the most mellow guitarists of all time, Eddie’s guitar work was emotionless.
When being interviewed in the mid-’80s about Eddie’s guitar skills, The Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia mentioned not being all that fond of Eddie’s style saying,
“There isn’t much there that interests me. It isn’t played with enough deliberateness, and it lacks a certain kind of rhythmic elegance that I like music to have, that I like notes to have. There’s a lot of notes and stuff, but the notes aren’t saying much, you know. They’re like little clusters. It’s a certain kind of music which I understand on one level, but it isn’t attractive to me.”
Despite Garcia’s comments, fans have lined up to talk about how important Eddie’s rhythm playing is to the sound of Van Halen, including Nuno Bettencourt mentioning how much of Eddie’s finesse is in his rhythm saying,
“His rhythm playing fucked me up. And I believe his rhythm playing was more influential to all guitar players than they know or than they like to believe. Every guitar player after Eddie, the way they played rhythm — the chording, everything they did, the way they phrased them, he affected all of them.”
“I heard his amazing solos – but symphonic and melodic, not just noise. You can hear the melody and be able to hum it back, instead of Yngwie nonsense. Nobody walks down the street humming Yngwie solos – versus Van Halen solos. They are great solos you can hum. Because he spent time figuring out the musicality of it.”
The Grateful Dead may have their place in the world of jam band music, but Eddie never kept you waiting around for much longer. While it might take an hour+ for a dead performance to get interesting, Eddie could blow minds in just 30 seconds.