Eddie Van Halen, coveted guitar god of a generation, has died at age 65 after a decade-long battle with throat cancer. Halen gave the music world some of the most memorable, generation-defining, and overall kick-ass performances in rock music. Inspiration to many, second to none – we celebrate his life by looking over what we consider his top 10 best solos:
10. Chinatown (2012)
Van Halen’s 2012 comeback album, albeit lacking critical recognition, features many tracks that remind listeners why the rock group is still a staple in popular music. This track, Eddie Van Halen wails out an unmerciful solo that punches harder than Mike Tyson.
9. One Foot Out of The Door (1981)
Closing out their fourth studio album, Fair Warning, Eddie Van Halen plays out the track with a mighty powerful solo that grooves with the driving Moog synth. Halen again hits the right notes because of this, we place the underrated track at number nine.
8. Outta Love Again (1979)
1979 gave us Van Halen’s second album featuring the bluesy Outta Love Again. The rock star’s guitar chops give limelight to the inspirational likes of classic blues guitarists while the pentatonic scales tell a strong story of vibrancy and strong emotion.
7. Cathedral (1982)
When you think ‘instrumental’ and Eddie Van Halen, this 1982 cut off Diver Down may not be the first one that comes to mind. But, the one minute and twenty-two second track by the guitarist sees some experimentation with amplification and echo delay that we hadn’t yet seen much from the band at that time. Nevertheless, it’s a classic.
6. Jump (1984)
Don’t get us wrong here – Eddie Van Halen doesn’t fall short in his guitar work on the track, but let’s not forget that iconic synth riff that everyone (Van Halen fan or not) immediately recognizes. This masterful performance by the musician was allegedly lifted from Hall and Oates ‘Kiss on My List’, but was made its own in this Van Halen staple.
5. Ain’t Talkin’ ‘bout Love (1978)
How do you follow the icon duo “Eruption” and “You Really Got Me” off of Van Halen’s debut album? Well, this track we’ve placed at number six does just that – satisfying listeners with a lick as memorable (if not more) than the lyrics themselves.
4. Runnin’ With The Devil (1978)
If you pull the needle back on that first side, we’ve got the opening track to Van Halen’s first album that introduced its starlight guitarist to the world. It’s short-yet-iconic and takes some of us back to when we first heard the rock group.
3. Hot for Teacher (1984)
Allegedly improvised in the studio – Eddie Van Halen blessed the world with a lightning storm of melodic phrasing, wild timing and composure that drove the rocket ship of a song Hot for Teacher. Need we say more?
2. Beat It (1982)
Michael Jackson wasn’t unfamiliar with unlikely collaborations during his rise to pop music royalty, but Eddie Van Halen’s contribution to the track ensured the song’s place as an anthem of bad-assery. From the driving chorus lick to the wailing solo, Beat It likely wouldn’t have risen to stardom as Thriller’s other chart-topping tracks.
1. Eruption (1978)
Let’s be real – we all saw this one coming. It’s his signature song. If the previously mentioned songs on the list didn’t secure the guitarist’s place in rock stardom – this did it. Regarded as one of the greatest guitar solos of all time, Eddie Van Halen inspired millions of finger-tapping, flutter-picking, whammy-barring guitarists to pick up the instrument in the first place and redefined the capabilities of the guitar. May you shine bright, Eddie Van Halen.