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Eddie Van Halen Makes Surprise Visit to Los Angeles Music School

Eddie Van Halen made a surprise visit to music students at LA Unified School District's Foshay Learning Center in Los Angeles last Thursday, December 5.

Twenty-seven students, under the tutelage of Music Director Vincent Womack, were transfixed as Van Halen told them to pursue their passion for music by sharing stories about the importance of music in his own life.

"I wasn't born 'Eddie Van Halen,' successful or famous," he said. "It took years of dedication and practice, practice, practice.

"The gift of music is yours, no one can take that away no matter what," Van Halen said to the class. "It is not a rich/poor thing, nor does it discriminate. If you have a love or even a like for music, go after it, pursue it.

"Music helps lift your self-esteem, it gave me an identity, kept me out of trouble, gave me goals and the desire to improve. It gave me a life. I am an example of what music can do for someone. What it did for me, it can do for you all. Anything is possible."

Van Halen and the Fender Musical Instruments Company donated one of his signature EVH 5150lll amps to the class. Van Halen also presented each student with a gift bag filled with EVH picks, guitar straps, cables, guitar strings and a Frankenstein key chain.

After scoring a gift bag of his own, Womack said, "I am so grateful to you for fueling and inspiring us and raising the ceiling of possibilities for the kids. We will never forget today."

Last year, Van Halen donated 75 electric guitars from his personal collection to the Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation, which distributed the guitars to nine schools throughout Los Angeles County. One of the recipients of a guitar, a student named Jose who was on hand Thursday, received a hands-on, one-on-one "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love" lesson from Van Halen.

Photo: Lee Salem

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Damian Fanelli

Damian is editor-in-chief of Guitar World magazine. From 1998 to 2014, he was one third of Mister Neutron, an instrumental rock act that toured the universe and elsewhere and released three albums via Austin-based Deep Eddy Records. These days he performs with several New York City-area bands and can often be spotted with one of his many, many, many B-bender-equipped guitars. In past lives he was GW’s managing editor and online managing editor – and he still can’t believe he got to write the liner notes for the latest SRV box set.