The 30 Most Badass Guitarists of All Time
EDDIE VAN HALEN
Born January 26, 1955
Band Van Halen
Iconic Guitar Homemade "Frankenstein" Strat
Coolest Riff "Panama"—1984
Eddie Van Halen forever changed the way that the guitar is made and played, but that’s not why he’s cool. Sure, he’s single-handedly responsible for the whole hot-rodded guitar and amp phenomenon that brought companies like Jackson and Charvel fortune, techs like Jose Arredondo and Lee Jackson fame and inventors like Floyd Rose immortality.
Yes, he perfected the two-handed tapping technique that made the guitar sound like a fucking synthesizer. And, okay, he crafted a legendary sound that guitarists are still trying to duplicate today. But what makes Eddie cool is his attitude—especially how he makes work seem like it takes no effort at all.
While he could put out an album of his farts or slap his name on any shitty guitar and still make millions, he is a painstaking perfectionist who spent years agonizing over every minute detail of his EVH Wolfgang guitar and EVH 5150 III amp before offering it to the public and who has refused to release a new Van Halen album until he feels it’s ready.
Even after splitting with Valerie Bertinelli after 26 years of marriage, surviving battles with alcohol and cancer and enduring the presence of David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar for most of the last 38 years, nothing has wiped the big, warm, friendly smile off of his face.