Skip to main content

Eddie Van Halen Plays Guitar (and Discusses Innovation) at the Smithsonian — Video

Last night (February 12), Eddie Van Halen spoke at Washington, D.C.'s Smithsonian National Museum of American History and Zocalo Public Square as part of the institution's "What It Means to Be American" series.

The Dutch-born Van Halen, 60, discussed his American journey, "his role in creating one of the biggest American rock bands of all time and how he has reinvented the way the guitar is played and designed."

He also answered the question, "Is rock and roll about reinvention?" And, oh yeah—he played guitar!

Journalist Denise Quan moderated the sold-out event.

Below, you'll find a professionally shot video, a Soundcloud audio stream and a photo gallery from the event.

Van Halen and Fender donated a master-built replica of Van Halen's white-with-black-stripe Stratocaster. This is the guitar that changed the world in 1978 when Van Halen cross-pollinated Gibson's electronics with Fender's body and neck designs. To represent the path of progressions in his instrument designs, a Stealth finished EVH Brand Wolfgang guitar also was included to represent his modern-day workhorse.

Van Halen and Fender also donated an EVH Brand 5150-III amp and speaker cabinet to showcase Van Halen's electronic growth and musical gear over the decades.

Photos: Chris Gill

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month*

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Damian Fanelli
Damian Fanelli

Damian is Editor-in-Chief of Guitar World magazine. In past lives, he was GW’s managing editor and online managing editor. He's written liner notes for major-label releases, including Stevie Ray Vaughan's 'The Complete Epic Recordings Collection' (Sony Legacy) and has interviewed everyone from Yngwie Malmsteen to Kevin Bacon (with a few memorable Eric Clapton chats thrown into the mix). Damian, a former member of Brooklyn's The Gas House Gorillas (opens in new tab), was the sole guitarist in Mister Neutron (opens in new tab), a trio that toured the U.S. and released three albums (opens in new tab). He now plays in two NYC-area bands.