161: VAN HALEN

With their accessible, but flashy and fun sound, Van Halen’s arrival on the scene brought rock back to the mainstream. Brothers Eddie and Alex Van Halen, with the help of bassist Michael Anthony, and front man David Lee Roth together were a force of nature.

David Lee Roth was essentially the prototypical glam front man, his style and wild personality clearly influencing the generation of hair metal singers that would follow.

But when Roth left in 1985, the band was joined by Montrose vocalist Sammy Hagar, and against all odds, Van Halen saw continued success with such a huge personnel change. Few bands could make such a drastic change and continue like Van Halen did. They not only contained, but practically found a new identity – affectionately known as Van Hagar – further cemented by Eddie’s utilisation of synths, deviating from the well known Van Halen sound.

Of course, the central element of this band is one unavoidable truth – Eddie Van Halen was, and remains, the greatest guitarist of all time. While many would argue the title belongs to Hendrix, the exploration of technique and attempt to understand the fundamentals of the instrument, and the way others learned from him… his influence is simply unrivalled.

There’s a reason Eruption is almost definitely the most famous guitar solo in history…

Van Halen’s legacy perseveres, as new generations discover this crazy rock band that changed everything, with the guy on guitar doing things that seem impossible.

Long live EVH. Long live Van Halen.