Guitar + Tape + Schwinn Bicycle Paint = Eruption
July 13, 2004 11:39 AM   Subscribe

Striping Guitars with Eddie Van Halen (in what appears to be his living room). More of his painted and unpainted guitars. Extra guitar geekiness: watch the evolution of Frankenstein.
posted by turbodog (59 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I remember many years ago when Eddie first made it big, and people were copying his one pickup, one knob guitar. He laughed about it because he said he did that when he took his guitar apart and couldn't really figure out how to rewire it, so he left one pickup in, and switched wires until he got sound. Now there's innovation for you!
posted by Eekacat at 11:57 AM on July 13, 2004

eddie has been playing the same tone using the same technique in the same guitar solos ever since he made it big. is he great? yes. are we tired of one-trick-eddie? yes.
posted by quonsar at 12:08 PM on July 13, 2004

I have a friend who works at a local condom/sex toy/novelty store that Eddie patronized last time he was in town. Apparently he bought like $200 worth of crap.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 12:09 PM on July 13, 2004

Awesome wallpaper! Ugly guitars.
posted by undecided at 12:22 PM on July 13, 2004

That LP hurts my eyes and makes me want to cry.
posted by malocchio at 12:26 PM on July 13, 2004

Is it me, or does he look really, really old?
posted by fluffycreature at 12:35 PM on July 13, 2004

I saw him on Saturday, he didn't look old onstage but he did look old in those photographs.
posted by substrate at 12:37 PM on July 13, 2004

You'd think Eddie would have long ago gotten tired of affixing masking tape over his guitars and DIYing it. I suppose its signature, but whew, what a thing to make a career over.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:37 PM on July 13, 2004

He looks pretty young to me. :-)
posted by milnak at 1:18 PM on July 13, 2004

He used to look a lot worse. I'm glad to see that he's gained some weight back. He looks healthy compared to a couple of years ago.
posted by timothompson at 1:31 PM on July 13, 2004

in spite of all the spray paint he seems to be huffing these days.
posted by DenOfSizer at 2:11 PM on July 13, 2004

I always loved that black'n'yellow one. I'm one of the biggest VH fans you'll ever meet - at least, VH 1978-1984. I have 3 one-pickup/one volume/Floyd Rose guitars, hehehe... so I think this is kinda cool.

However, instead of spending $7,000 to buy one of these, I can go grab about $600 worth of parts and do the tape'n'spray by myself. Eddie's already got enough of my cash, methinks. :)
posted by zoogleplex at 2:21 PM on July 13, 2004

The years have not been kind to our boy Eddie.

But man, back in the day there was no one that could touch him on the instrument. I know the whole who's-the-best-rock-guitarist thing is a joke, but still, he pretty much redefined things.

Astounding technique and, yes, soul - unlike subsequent fret heroes like Satriani, Vai, Hammet, Malmsteen, etc. Listen to his rhythm parts on the pre-1984 albums: even behind the solos he's in a class by himself.

And yes, YH did embody much, if not all, that was wrong with rock in the 80s and 90s. Still, find me a guitar-cock-rock album that equal 1984.
posted by gottabefunky at 2:32 PM on July 13, 2004

I liked Eddie in the 1995 era with the beard and short hair. It's the same change I made about that time.
posted by RustyBrooks at 2:32 PM on July 13, 2004

VH did embody much, if not all, that was wrong with rock in the 80s and 90s.

I realize from the rest of your comment that you're a fan of Van Halen, so this statement seems odd to me. I'd have to ask you what qualities they embody that were so bad.

VH at their best had a good combination of good technical chops played with taste, honest energy and emotion, and when DLR was around, a great sense of humor and exuberance. To me and my East Coast freinds at the time, they were kind of like the Beach Boys to us, representing a Californian fantasy of babes, sun and endless partying. Nothing profound perhaps, but definitely a worthy diversion.

If you wanted to pick a band that represented what was wrong with rock at the time you could pick a better example like say Motley Crue, Poison, and Winger. And even they were preferable to Duran Duran/Wham! synthpop that was clogging the airwaves at the time.
posted by jonmc at 2:58 PM on July 13, 2004 [1 favorite]

Would anyone sober and not in a karaoke bar want to actually listen to any era Van Halen?
posted by xmutex at 2:59 PM on July 13, 2004

Still, find me a guitar-cock-rock album that equal 1984.

As much as I love 1984, if stranded on a desert island, I'd take his guitar work on Fair Warning in a heart beat. Even at this age, I still dream of being able to play every song on that record. I'd give it all up.
posted by Witty at 3:00 PM on July 13, 2004 [1 favorite]

Would anyone sober and not in a karaoke bar want to actually listen to any era Van Halen?

*raises hand*
posted by sklero at 3:03 PM on July 13, 2004

Arguably, the most under-rated aspect of VH's greatness... Michael Anthony's ridiculous falsetto harmonies and backing vocals. Without 'em, I dunno. Not that there's any point to this statement.
posted by Witty at 3:11 PM on July 13, 2004

Would anyone sober and not in a karaoke bar want to actually listen to any era Van Halen?

Since this is a music thread, you forgot the obligatory "/Your Favorite Band Sucks" tag.

And Witty is right on about Michael Anthony's background vocals. They're a much bigger part of the Van Halen sound than most people I think realize.
posted by Cyrano at 3:18 PM on July 13, 2004

Witty, you are so right. Come on over to my place, bring your guitar, I'll walk you thru 'em. I can still note-for-note most of that stuff. Even the solo from "Push Come to Shove." PS be sure to bring a stomp-box phase shifter (Eddie used the MXR 90, I use a Small Stone) and flanger (dunno what Eddie used, I have an Electric Mistress), which are totally key to the tones on that record. I spent years of my life destroying multiple vinyl album copies of the first 5 VH records learning all that stuff as accurately as I could, hehe.

And yeah, I agree with you about Mike's vocals. Indispensable and essential to the VH sound. On preview, that's 3 of us, excellent. :)

Fair Warning is by far their best album both musically and lyrically. A slab of magic vinyl, that one. For me, VH II is next best, but that's probably because I owned that one first of all of them.

Women And Children First, however, sounds closest to what they actually sounded like live in a big arena. Boomy, poundy, sorta darkish. Even with the "California Dreams" factor jonmc mentions. But at that point, they were the biggest, baddest rock 'n' roll road show on earth, IMO. The Mighty Van Halen, to be sure!

Ah, the good ol' days. :)
posted by zoogleplex at 3:24 PM on July 13, 2004

zoogleplex - Your offer is most appreciated. But sadly, I'll have to settle for being the world's most kick-ass Van Halen air guitarist (despite the plethora of competition). It's so great that you picked the solo in Push Comes to Shove too, it is also my favorite (even at it's most erratic). I love where those three harmonics at the beginning fall in the count... just slightly behind the beat in a sense. Heck, it would please me to no end to just sit back and thump out the rhythm part behind it.

duh-nunt dunt duh-nunt... chickaDuh.. nuh... nunt.

Alas, I couldn't play you a lick. By I sure can fake a good pick slide, hammer-ons, finger taps, rakes, bends, and various tremelo tricks {wink}.
posted by Witty at 3:54 PM on July 13, 2004

Ummm....Is there no love here for the first album?

"Eruption," "Runnin' With The Devil" the best cover ever of "You Really Got Me," "Jamie's Cryin'" "Ain't Talkin' Bout Love" and their immortal version of "Ice Cream Man."

Ah, bliss.
posted by jonmc at 4:02 PM on July 13, 2004

I'm with you, jonmc.
posted by sharpener at 4:12 PM on July 13, 2004

I'm just going to come out and say it: I prefer Hagar.

I know, I know... What do you burn besides Hagar fans? MORE HAGAR FANS!!!
posted by Cyrano at 4:17 PM on July 13, 2004

I was in high school from 1978 to 1982. Van Halen was me and my mates credo. I mean, dude, we famously spray-painted the VH logo on the town's water tower. In spite of myself, I can still be something of a EVH fanboy—I loved seeing these photos.

And there's no question of EVH's guitargodness. I saw them live twice (all pre'84, of course) and I've never before or since seen solos that amazing.

Alas, however, I find VH's music unlistenable. In contrast, the music of some of my other favorite bands from that era I am, occasionally, still able to listen to: Rush, ZZ Top. Not very often , mind you, but I can listen. Not VH. This makes me sad. I never would have expected this. It makes me think their music wasn't very good (timelessness is an acid test).

Fair Warning—yeah the best album. Not necessarily the most enjoyable, but definitely the best. I always thought that W&CF was very underrated, too.

Even though, to us, Eddie was God and we knew that he didn't like DLR and that Roth was a jerk, it was a very sad day for us when Roth left the band. We knew it was the end, and we were right. Post-DLR...bleh. And I even liked Hagar on his own.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:18 PM on July 13, 2004

We knew it was the end, and we were right. Post-DLR...bleh. And I even liked Hagar on his own.

But, you know what, you could tell the musical direction of the band was starting to change with 1984. You should probably be glad DLR left at the height of his powers, so to speak, because even though he wasn't my favorite I doubt anyone would speak of him so fondly if his slow decline had happened with the band rather than without it.
posted by Cyrano at 4:22 PM on July 13, 2004

Eddie's looking older, but Christ, the guy's pushing 50 and he's been through divorce, hip surgery, and cancer not to mention 20 + years of alcoholism. Let's see how you guys hold up at that age.

Oh, and gottabefunky, don't lump in Satch with Hammet and Malmsteen. Satriani has plenty of soul. Just listen to his 1995 self-titled album.
posted by Devils Slide at 4:34 PM on July 13, 2004

EB, even though my high school years were 1985-1989, me and my boys still flew the hard rock flag proudly. A few new names had been added (Judas Priest, Iron Maiden,Metallica, Megadeth et al) but the ethos was still the same and we revered Van Halen, Kiss, Zep, AC/DC, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Ted Nugent, and Black Sabbath as elder statesmen. While my tastes have broadened and expanded hugely over the intervening years, I've never abandonded the primal virtues of testosterone soaked young warrior exuberance that was that musics hallmark. So when I'm fulla beer and wanna feel young and dumb and fun again, those records are what I slap on.

Oh, and even with Hagar they pulled off a few good songs with "Love Walks In" and "Right Now." Hagar had great pipes but none of Diamond Dave's charm or humor, although "Give To Live" and "I Can't Drive 55" are still fun to hear once in a while and his stuff with Montrose is pretty good, too.

Also, VH's influence shows up in the oddest places. The Butthole Surfers do a great version of "Everybody Wants Some" and on the inside of Double Nickels On The Dime, the Minutemen thank them for "timeless music."

People who have (somewhat justifiable, also somewhat wrongheaded but that I could write a book on) peeves with butt-rock tend to hang a lot of those complaints on Van Halen but I'd say that the dumb, misogynist (and shitty-singer-having) Motley Crue are a much more deserving of the loathing. Although even they had some tunes ("Live Wire" "On With The Show" "Girls, Girls, Girls"*) but they would've been better served with a real singer.

It's all these shades of difference. Sorry if I'm rambling, but this kind of music is rarely written about intelligently so I seize every opportunity.

*which Thurston Moore once called "just plain great"
posted by jonmc at 4:42 PM on July 13, 2004 [1 favorite]

EB, I was in high school 1979-1983. I can still listen to VH unabashedly; right here in my iPod there are all the first six albums plus a live bootleg from 1977 that my buddy Brian gave me on cassette tape. It still rocks me. As does Rush's Moving Pictures and of course Cheap Trick Live At Budokan. But yeah, VH were the mighty gods of partyin' rock 'n' roll, and much more than just a loud flashy party band from Pasadena, if you really listen close - Fair Warning is where the depth really shows.

And I don't care if anybody thinks I'm an aging goofball rocker because of that. You're quite right if you do!

Slide, I actually saw a very rare thing: Yngwie playing Hendrix and blues. And, I hate to admit it, but with as much or more feel and soul as anybody ever could. Completely stunned me, as all that neo-Paganini fret-flailing, while impressive, was emotionally sterile and left me cold after 2 identical-sounding solos.

Satch, he had the shit, tho, no mistake.

jonmc, no lack of love for VH I; had I bought that one first it would probably rank higher than VH II for me. "Light Up The Sky," though... that one was just insanely cool. Still love to play that one. :) And I agree with you totally, any complaints about "hair band" rock need to be filed POST Van Halen Mark One. They did it right, no bullshit.
posted by zoogleplex at 4:53 PM on July 13, 2004

Weird aside on the fret-burner topic: I ran into Paul Gilbert (Racer X, Mr. Big) at the grocery store seafood counter a couple weeks ago. He's still making his living writing, playing and selling records in Japan. God bless him. :)
posted by zoogleplex at 4:55 PM on July 13, 2004

any complaints about "hair band" rock need to be filed POST Van Halen Mark One. They did it right, no bullshit.

Damn straight. VH is one of maybe 15 bands from that pack that I can listen too sans nostalgia. The rest would be Iron Maiden, Kiss, AC/DC, Judas Priest, Def Leppard, Raven, W.A.S.P., Twisted Sister, Anthrax, Faster Pussycat, White Lion, Guns & Roses and prolly a few others that I'm forgetting. These bands still years down the road have something intrinsically good to offer, (of varying degrees) today.

And while we're discussing axe-gods, what about his majesty Ritchie Blackmore. Of course that'd lead to a discussion of which Rainbow was best, even thogh the answer is obviously Graham Bonnett.
posted by jonmc at 5:01 PM on July 13, 2004

I always thought the guy from White Lion was a particularly blatant Eddie clone. But I'm fine if someone with mad guitar skillz wants to call me on that.
posted by Cyrano at 5:05 PM on July 13, 2004

I always thought the guy from White Lion was a particularly blatant Eddie clone.

Yeah, but what set them apart was the good hooksmithing ("Tell Me" still gets me pumped today), and fairly intelligent lyrics, and a good vocalist.

I could go on all night.

*swoons in ectasy*
posted by jonmc at 5:10 PM on July 13, 2004

I was never a fan, but if I hear "Wait" I'll be singing it for the next couple of days. So I get ya.
posted by Cyrano at 5:14 PM on July 13, 2004

As long as I'm here, I'd like to say that I'm somewhat sorry for the anti-college rock diatribes I've spewed over the years. The best of punk, and alternative rock, and all the other genres had the same cardinal virtues of the stuff I desribe here. I just kinda wanted the headbanger nation invited to the rock geek table, too is all.
posted by jonmc at 5:17 PM on July 13, 2004

Thurston Moore said when Nirvana and Sonic Youth were playing in LA, Eddie Van Halen came to their show. When he told Kurt Cobain Eddie Van Halen was "holding court" in Nirvana's dressing room, Kurt ran in there and kissed Eddie on the mouth. He says it's one of his favorite memories of Kurt.

Eddie Van Halen: the guitar hero anti-guitar heroes love.

jonmc, Rainbow was the first band I saw live. It was at the Cow Palace in SF in 1983 when Joe Lynn Turner was their singer and they were opening for Blue Oyster Cult (the shortest band according to the Guinness book of records). Turner sounded pretty good when he wasn't advocating dropping the bomb on the USSR as part of his onstage banter, but Ritchie was horribly loud and out of tune during most of the set which was quite a disappointment seeing as Blackmore was the reason I liked Rainbow and I had clawed my way to the third row facing stage left. But back to the best Rainbow vocalist...I have to agree Bonham had the best pipes, even though my favorite Rainbow album is Straight Between the Eyes which features Turner.

Anyone want to vote for Dio? Hey, where did everyone go?
posted by Devils Slide at 5:37 PM on July 13, 2004

Dio was a strange case, in that he's one of the few Metal guys who was best when he went solo, although his Rainbow work was good, but his work with Sabbath will always be judeged in Ozzy's shadow.

Turner sounded pretty good when he wasn't advocating dropping the bomb on the USSR as part of his onstage banter

He really did that? Surprising and disappointing. "Can't Happen Here" always struck me a rocking and sincere, if a bit pedestrian attempt at a protest song, although it had a great stock footage video.

I was actually thinking of doing a thread on my own blog about great heavy metal anti-war songs, if only to prove that the genre has a social conscience, and to draw my metal brethren into the anti-war tent. Headbangers For Peace amyone?

But here's some good examples "Two Minutes To Midnight" by Iron Maiden, "For Whom The Bell Tolls" and "Fight Fire With Fire" by Metallica, "Seek And Destroy" by Raven, "Civil War" by G-N-R, and "Suffer The Children" by Napalm Death all come to mind, and all these songs have the emotional galvanizing effect of the best hard rock so they'd be a good part of the pantheon.
posted by jonmc at 5:48 PM on July 13, 2004

Oh MAN. Now you are REALLY taking me back. White Lion... any of you got the "Fight To Survive" album on vinyl? I do. :) Much heavier than the stuff that broke them big.

They used to be the "house" band at L'Amour in lovely Bay Ridge Brooklyn (Ah yes indeed! Hi Chuck, hehehe) where we used to go most Saturday nights, and I was there when they debuted all that new stuff like "Wait" for the first time. They were a solid band, good live show and yeah, Vito Bratta was sort of an Eddie clone but he had some really interesting and unique takes on the Eddie meme, especially on FTS.

LOL Dio... saw em at Byrne Arena (that's the Meadowlands) with Dokken one year, then Rough Cutt opening the next. Oye. Hey, what was I, 19, 20? I thought it rawked!! :D

Was all that really 20 years ago?? Daayyummmmm...
posted by zoogleplex at 5:50 PM on July 13, 2004

Oh and BTW jonmc: Peace Sells... But Who's Buying? :)
posted by zoogleplex at 5:52 PM on July 13, 2004


"Symphony Of Destruction" is even better, me thinks.
posted by jonmc at 5:55 PM on July 13, 2004

"Blackened" anyone?" Or, uh, ya know..."One"?

Sorry turbodog! We seem to be digressing! Great post, though!
posted by Cyrano at 6:00 PM on July 13, 2004

I always thought "Blackened" was about enviornmental disaster.
posted by jonmc at 6:02 PM on July 13, 2004

nope - smoking. My co-worker's car only has a tape deck, so we listened to my old Metallica and VH tapes on a recent business trip.
posted by notsnot at 6:08 PM on July 13, 2004

No shit?

Odd, it made for a great opener both times I saw them, (Justice, Hartford Coliseum with Queensryche opening, and Black Album at the Nassau Coliseum) ironically in an arena blanketed in tobacco & pot smoke.
posted by jonmc at 6:14 PM on July 13, 2004

Crap. You're right, notsnot. I brainfarted that one. But "One" is still a solid anti-war choice.

(They opened with Blackened most times I saw them as well.)
posted by Cyrano at 6:16 PM on July 13, 2004

posted by Satapher at 8:52 PM on July 13, 2004

jonmc, it's interesting you mention "Can't Happen Here", because Turner was introducing that song when he made that comment. I believe he said something like: "The next song is about nuclear war... I personally don't give a shit. You can bomb the fucking Russians as far as I am concerned::crowd cheers::"

I think he was just pissed that he had to sing Graham Bonnett's song.

Re heavy Metal "protest songs", don't forget War Pigs by Sabbath.

zoogleplex, I can't believe so much time has passed either. Now I look at some of my record collection and I have to shake my head, but at the time I thought it was awesome. Believe me, twenty years from now the kids who are buying all the NuMetal and pseudopunk albums are going to be a lot more embarrassed than we are about some of our records.
posted by Devils Slide at 9:49 PM on July 13, 2004

Another HM anti-war song is "Hiroshima Mon Amour" by Alcatrazz (Bonnett and Malmsteen's collaboration). I think Ultravox also has a song with the same title.
posted by Devils Slide at 10:09 PM on July 13, 2004

I prefer Hagar.

Eeew. Solo Hagar = good. Van Halen with DLR = good. Solo DLR = not good1. Van Hagar = not good2.

1 "Just a Gigolo" and "California Girls" are fun.

2 "Right Now" is one of my all-time favorite videos.

(I'm an exact contemporary of zoogleplex.)
posted by kirkaracha at 10:11 PM on July 13, 2004

"Just a Gigolo" and "California Girls" are fun.

And "Yankee Rose"...

I'd have to say, overall the Diamond Dave era of Van Halen kicks major ass, but I've gotta admit Eddie came out with some hella cool rhythm parts on some of the Hagar era stuff. "Finish What You Started" anyone?

I saw the coolest moment of pan-subcultural signifier-swappin' coolness a couple of weeks ago, in a music store: some nerdy East Indian kid nailing, note-for-note, the "Eruption" tapping part. On a banjo. 'Twas a sight to behold, for sure.
posted by arto at 11:11 PM on July 13, 2004

Other Eddie tidbits, off the top of my head, include the solo in Michael Jackson's Beat It and the soundtrack for the movie The Wild Life with Chris Penn, Eric Stolz and Lea Thompson. If you ever find yourself watching that movie, you might notice bits and pieces, licks and riffs from what will one day be whole songs on 5150.
posted by Witty at 6:03 AM on July 14, 2004

p.s. How did we manage to get away with a thread about Van Halen?
posted by Witty at 6:03 AM on July 14, 2004

'Cause all us indie rockers are rolling our eyes too much to type...

(Unchained is one of my all time favorite songs...)
posted by jalexei at 7:40 AM on July 14, 2004

Since ya';ll are on Eddie... anyone know what that xmas song was that he did a guest solo on that came out this past year?
For the life of me, I heard it once, and cant' remember who the artist was or what the song title is..
posted by niteHawk at 8:45 AM on July 14, 2004

Witty... because WE ROCK!!! WOOOO!!!! \m/_ // > < \\ _\m/

I just gotta say, I saw David Lee Roth and band (Steve Vai, Billy Sheehan, Greg Bissonette) with Cinderella opening for them at the Byrne Arena October 10, 1985 (which i believe was Dave's birthday), and to this day it's still probably the musically tightest rock show i've ever seen. That band was just insanely awesome, too much chops all up there at once. And they were on. Like, as on as a band can get, couldn't get a guitar pick in between 'em. Absolutely stunning show, I walked out with my head spinning.

Interestingly, Cinderella was equally tight, they won me over with their live show because they really nailed it. They get a lot of crap about being AC/DC clones or whatever, but they were the real deal, they had a solid professional live show. I liked their songs anyway and still do. :p

Oh and i got laid, too. That was just a great night.

Speaking of insanely great live shows, anybody but me ever go see Kix? they were machines, man... note perfect.

For you indie rockers, I present the ultimate: Indie Rock Pete!

Strange Joe Lynn Turner moment - saw him in a bar in Hoboken. He's about 5' 5", and he was wearing makeup. Like, a lot of makeup. Girl-type makeup, though not Twisted Sister extreme. Foundation, blush, eye liner, eye shadow. Somewhat incongruous with nuking the Russians, eh what? (or perhaps not... *coughjedgarhoovercough*)

Life is a funny thing. Even funnier from the inside of the music biz. I need to do a comic about my adventures there, like the mighty R has been telling me to.

OK yeah. So I'm a metalhead. hehehehe
posted by zoogleplex at 10:22 AM on July 14, 2004

Big Van Halen fan myself, Fair Warning is my favorite record, but I think Eddie's intro to "Women in Love" on VH II is one of his greatest moments.

Has anyone here heard "Starfleet Project" with Brian May and Eddie jamming together? Guitar geek heaven.
posted by Ty Webb at 11:34 AM on July 14, 2004

Yep, I had that cassette. It was cool. I felt at the time that I wished Eddie had just gone his own way and explored his talents thusly (and stayed away from the fucking keyboards).
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:49 PM on July 14, 2004

Zoogplex, that is a freaky celebrity encounter. I think it's a cry for help.

Ty, I have Starfleet too. Brian May and Eddie jamming on Bluesbreaker (dedicated to Eric Clapton) is a real treat.
posted by Devils Slide at 12:10 AM on July 15, 2004

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