Now if you’ve followed along with my columns, I’ve said it before, sure I’m just about 40 years old, but I don’t want to be a “Get off my lawn” or “Old man yells at cloud” type of guy. When I was younger my parents didn’t understand some of the music I listened to. Sometimes, without paying it any attention at all. While I’ll be honest and say most of the new popular music I hear is garbage, I at least try to understand it. While not something I’ve gone back to yet, a few columns ago I reviewed Billie Eilish and I could at least appreciate it, in fact even enjoyed it in spots. The Grammy awards are basically an irrelevant circle jerk. Example; Beyoncé’s 8 year old daughter getting a Grammy. They have progressively been getting it wrong since the 60’s (google some of the groups that won over the Beatles, as well as the famous Jethro Tull/Metallica incident). I am not the type that gets angry over irrelevant stuff, HOWEVER, whenever they have a chance to somewhat redeem themselves, they fail. Their “tribute” to Eddie Van Halen, one of the two most important and recognizable guitar players of all time (the other of course Jimi Hendrix), a man who revotionized guitar playing and rock music and thrust it into the modern era, was a 15 second video clip with his guitar sitting on stage. That’s it. They did ask his son Wolfgang to play his famous “Eruption” guitar solo, but Wolfgang understandably did not feel comfortable doing that. Predictably, as every award show has been suffering from lower ratings year after year, the Grammy’s had their lowest ratings ever. Maybe it’s because the audience they are supposed to be targeting, would rather watch TikTok’s than a 3-hour award show? Who knows. I for one, did not watch it because I knew the only part I would be interested in, they’d screw up, as they did. So here we go with a couple of albums featuring brilliant guitar players.
In the 1 minute and 42 seconds of “Eruption“, Eddie completely rewrote how the guitar was played. Following that, their cover of “You Really Got Me” was another watershed moment. Putting those famous fingers to work again through his modified amplifiers, Eddie’s famous “Brown Sound” guitar tone transformed the Kinks classic into an absolute ripper, and one of the greatest cover songs of all time. And while Eddie’s contributions were massive, the rest of the band could hold their own. Eddie’s brother Alex on drums was a ferocious hard hitting player in the vein of John Bonham. He beat his drums like they insulted his mother, but he also played with a “swing” very few drummers can match. Michael Anthony provided the ying to Eddies yang on bass, providing smooth in the pocket basslines, while also delivering possibly the greatest backup vocals in rock history. And David Lee Roth. While Diamond Dave has evolved into a cornball, back then he was about 50% talent and 50% attitude, which was not a bad thing. He could sing adequately but brought such a piss and vinegar attitude to his vocals that it matched Eddie’s guitar playing perfectly. I could imagine in the months that followed the release of this album, lots of guitar players locked themselves in bedrooms with copies of this record, or pretty much just quit playing altogether. Every song on this record is classic. From the iconic thumping bass intro to “Runnin’ with the Devil“, to the instantly recognizable oft sampled guitar riff to “Jamie’s Cryin“, some great fast rockers in “I’m The One” and “Atomic Punk“, the whimsical “Ice Cream Man” to the hidden gem “Little Dreamer“, where Eddie shows that along with blazing speed, he can pull emotion out of the guitar as well. Now I have never claimed to be an expert on todays popular music, but I do know 2 Facts; one, Eddie Van Halen Halen completely changed the way people looked at the guitar and two, this album sold 10 MILLION COPIES IN THE US ALONE. If there was an artist on the Grammy’s this year that had that kind of influence or popularity, I failed to see it. Eddie deserved better.
Thanks again for reading! As always, if you have suggestions for future articles, find and follow me on Instagram at @Stevedestruct.