Eddie Van Halen 1955-2020: a visionary virtuoso who rewrote the rules of electric guitar

Eddie Van Halen
(Image credit: Fin Costello/Redferns)

Some rock-star deaths hit like a sledgehammer. On 6 October, as the black news ripped through social media, fans both illustrious and unknown found a thousand ways to echo the same sentiment. Not Eddie Van Halen. 

Death was so diametrically opposed to the life force in the Californian virtuoso’s fretwork. The black-and-white valedictory photos filling news feeds so drab compared with his kaleidoscope of DIY SuperStrats. The past tense of the eulogies so jarring when applied to the man who announced the future when he arrived in 1978, all megawatt smile and hands ablaze. 

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Henry Yates

Henry Yates is a freelance journalist who has written about music for titles including The Guardian, Telegraph, NME, Classic Rock, Guitarist, Total Guitar and Metal Hammer. He is the author of Walter Trout's official biography, Rescued From Reality, a talking head on Times Radio and an interviewer who has spoken to Brian May, Jimmy Page, Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie Wood, Dave Grohl and many more. As a guitarist with three decades' experience, he mostly plays a Fender Telecaster and Gibson Les Paul.