The 5th Greatest Guitarist to Walk The Earth?

#5 Eddie Van Halen

Eddie might just be the least controversial person to put in this position. There are many who might have wanted him higher on the list but I doubt there will be many who wanted to see him placed lower on my list.

By now, you should know that this list was prompted by Rolling Stone Magazine (and many others) giving Jimi Hendrix accolades I don’t really think he deserved. To touch on that again, Jimi was a fine artist and a good guitarist. He was an excellent musician – but, on a technical scale, he pales to the greats which I’ve been listing.

We all know Rolling Stone is not to be trusted with judging musical talent, but they were closer to home with this one. They placed him in 8th position in their list of top 100 guitarists. Guitar World readers put him in first place – but they don’t appear to even be able to get their slideshow working properly, so they’re definitely not to be trusted with counting higher than four. (Maybe they should be called Drum World?)

You can click this link and see what Wikipedia has to say about him, but they’re just not a very good source. A quick search for “godlike guitar powers” and “holy fuck” get no results. I submit, dear reader, that this is surely a sign of a conspiracy. It’s also probably why my account is banned from editing Wikipedia. I am guessing the two are related.

Eddie was born in Netherlands and his real last name is some stupid combination of letters that I can’t remember, spell, or pronounce. I’m pretty sure it’s pronounced by filling your mouth with rocks and trying to recite Mother Goose nursery rhymes. Fortunately, he changed it to something awesome. It’s so awesome that it has become an entity of its own. If you say Van Halen, only a fool doesn’t know exactly what you mean. You can even turn it into a verb, “You Van Halen’ed the fuck out of that solo.”

Someone, I won’t mention any names – but it rhymes with Bees Sugar Post, once told me that Van Halen wasn’t innovative and that’s probably technically true. He took many other components and put them together as his own sound. So, I’d have to say that he innovated in that he made a very, very distinct sound. It’s not that all Van Halen songs sound the same, it’s that many of them tend to be unmistakable.

Let’s have a listen, shall we?

The thing is, that’s not impressive. It’s not. I can play that with my eyes closed. In fact, I have. No, that’s actually not why Eddie is on the list.

This is why he’s on the list – it’s the same(ish) song:

I can’t play that – and neither can you.

Also, my hair isn’t that awesome. It’s not…

There exists something so fantastic that it’s not a documentary, it’s a rockumentary. Save the Van Hagar jokes! It’s well worth watching!

Seriously, skip the Van Hagar joke.

Unless you think the sound wasn’t distinct (and it’s pretty difficult to replicate) then I invite you to listen to the quintessential rock song.

Some folks will say that Eruption or Panama are the true masterpieces. They’re also the same sort of people who’d put Jimi at the top of the list. In other words, they’re wrong. This is the masterpiece. Go ahead and replicate it, I’ll wait…

Finally, I want to leave you with one last track for the road and to get you through until I post the next entry on the list. This song is just fun to play. It’s difficulty level is not too high, compared to some other artists, but it’s absolutely fun to play – almost as much fun as Jump.

Until next time…

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3 thoughts on “The 5th Greatest Guitarist to Walk The Earth?”

  1. August 18th, 1982. That was the day I went to the first real concert I ever went to. Van Halen. Me and some friends showed up early, around 7AM. So that we could get down front. Shortly after we arrived, more people were showing up. Somebody brought a cooler full of wapatoolie and passed around cups. The like was thousands of people long by the afternoon and I was drunk off my ass. I actually took a nap for a couple of hours right there on the sidewalk. When I woke up, it was pandemonium. There were cops everywhere trying to control the crowd. I see my buddy that I came with over across the street stealing the license plate off of the K9 cop car. As the cops are standing in the street looking at us. He was right behind them using a dime to unscrew the screws holding the plate on. The plate number was 666. The whole crowd watched him steal the plate but the cops never noticed. So then we get to go in, and we were like the fifth and sixth ones through the door and we are going to run right to where Eddie stands, and there are 50 people there already!! What the hell!?! So we get front row left center in front of Mike. That band put on one hell of a show in those days. Just tremendous! It was like the circus. Then Eddie did his guitar solo and wandered over in front of me, just jamming away, and he stops like he does, and looks at the crowd. Just a grinning, as the crowd was roaring. Then he tapped his pick hand finger on the last fret of the thinnest string, and wow. I don’t know what effect he had on but that note sounded so fucking great. I was amazed and mesmerized. The very next day I went to the music store and bought an electric guitar

  2. Thanks! I love that story! (I had to submit it a second time, as it’s not showing clearly where it’s threaded.)

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