Posted: October 7th, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Comments Off on Edward

I grew up with a kid named Mark Doughty. He was three or four years younger than me, but was always ahead of me when it came to music. Rewind back to 1986 and there I am listening to CCR or Billy Joel. Mark was trying to get me to listen to some group called Metallica. No way, I said. Heavy metal just wasn’t for me. Then he pushed me to check out Black Sabbath. He tried to sell me on the genius of songs like Iron Man and War Pigs. Black Sabbath? Sounded way too Satanic for me.

Eventually Mark wore me down. He and I would trade cassettes. I listened to Ride the Lightning and fell in love with Metallica. I listened to the Paranoid album and fell in love with Sabbath. Then came Piece of Mind and my love for Iron Maiden.

The one band I wouldn’t cave on was Van Halen.

They just weren’t for me.

I was a weird kid. I would pick and choose things to love and hate. And I hated David Lee Roth. He was goofy and cheesey to me. Why couldn’t he be a respectable lead singer, like Paul Stanley of KISS? Clearly I had issues.

Mark would beg me to listen to Van Halen. He would preach the gospel of Eruption, knowing that I was developing a real love for guitar players. Eddie Van Halen was the top of the heap for Mark (and most of the world at that time). Like an ignorant jackass, I remained on the outside and wanted no part of Van Halen.

Fast forward a couple of years. I used to go down to Myrtle Beach, SC and deliver pizzas as a summer job. It was an easy way to make good money for college and you could have a bit of fun as well. I would ride around in the car all day listening to WKZQ, 101.7. Banana Jack Murphy and the other DJs would blast my brain with all kinds of classic rock, including VH.

Slowly, I started giving in a bit. I got over my David Lee Roth hangup and embraced Van Halen. I still remember the day when I really caved in.

Some friends from my hometown came to the beach. We all got drunk and I passed out on the floor of their hotel room (hotel is being generous), partially sleeping on some Budweiser cans. We were as classy as the day is long.

I woke up the next morning while the others were still passed out. I walked out of the room and was hit by the morning sun. I felt pretty good and decided to make the most of the morning. I hopped in the car and headed for Inlet Square Mall. I was going to buy Van Halen I on cassette.

I popped that cassette into my car stereo and blasted it for several straight days. I had heard a few of the songs, but had no idea just how great an album that truly is. Van Halen I is one of the best debut albums of all time.

It felt so good to finally be on board with VH. The more I listened, the more I realized the band was Eddie. I was an idiot for focusing on Roth all those years. Don’t get me wrong. Alex Van Halen is an incredible drummer. Michael Anthony is a good bass player and terrific background singer. And Roth…I eventually quit hating him and appreciated what a good singer and front man he was.

But Eddie. VH was and always will be about Eddie.

You listen to Eruption and that’s like a religious experience for people who love guitars or guitar players. For those who somehow have never heard it…

Amazing. Timeless. Fucking unbelievable.

Van Halen isn’t my favorite band. Heck, they aren’t even in the Top 10 for me. But Eddie is a transcendant guitar player and you had to listen to as much of his stuff as possible. I’ve got their first eight studio albums on CD. I’ve got a live album and a greatest hits compilation. Once I was in, I was really in.

Eddie Van Halen died on Tuesday. He was 65.

This really hit me hard. I was at work when I heard and I got choked up a bit. I put Van Halen on the stereo on the way home and that both fired me up and saddened me. A world without Eddie…that just seems crazy. I’ll always think of that big smile of his. How could a guy who looked so happy put out such incredible sounds? Shouldn’t that be a mad genius instead of the boy next door?

Thankfully we can listen to Hot For Teacher or Unchained or whatever songs we love and we’ll still be able to embrace Eddie’s genius.

Now I need to call Mark and see when we can get together to listen to some Van Halen and share some stories. Who knows…maybe he’s got another band for me to listen to.


Football will return. I just needed to write something about Eddie since he’s been part of my life for more than 30 years.


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