1.7 1978: When It All Really Kicked In...
It is hard to comprehend – over three decades on - quite how much Dutch born Eddie Van Halen not so much ripped up the rock guitar rulebook, but decimated it with a 10 megaton atomic bomb. Quite simply, nothing like this had ever been heard before: the revolutionary technical innovations such as two handed tapping, dive bombs, harmonics manipulation and sheer energy, speed fire and fluidity ensures that 1978 – the year that Van Halen I was released – is Year Dot for modern rock guitar.
Sure, as detailed in the previous selection of players, the 70’s had already proven to be an incredible few years for the development of guitar playing – and a select few players had experimented with two handed tapping and other signature elements of Eddie’s style - but no one even approached the extent to which Van Halen utilised these. Van Halen – the band – also became one of the biggest bands in history, and as such Eddie’s influence was felt on a global level.
Picking key tracks for the few of you reading this unaware of Van Halen’s playing is tricky, as all Van Halen songs are essential, but the famous ‘Eruption’ is a pretty cool starting point… then maybe swing by ‘I’m On Fire (just dig that genius rhythmic ability!).
Eddie Van Halen changed the course of rock guitar forever, and opened the door for the shred genre that would flourish in the 1980’s.