Poll Results: Eddie Van Halen’s “Eruption” Tops Readers’ List of the 50 GREATEST GUITAR SOLOS OF ALL TIME in Guitar World’s Reader’s Poll
Who says lightning doesn’t strike twice?
For the second year in a row, Eddie Van Halen has topped a major summer-long poll at GuitarWorld.com.
In 2012, readers crowned him the Greatest Guitarist of All Time. This year, one of his many six-string masterpieces, “Eruption,” a wildly innovative instrumental track from Van Halen’s self-titled 1978 album, was voted the Greatest Guitar Solo of All Time.
The sonic Shot Heard Round The World! “Eruption” is the instrumental that introduced everyone to the guitar genius of Eddie Van Halen. Eruption is the second track on Van Halen. It was included as a B-Side on Runnin’ With The Devil.
“The story behind ‘Eruption’ is strange,” says Eddie. “While we were recording the album, I showed up at the studio early one day and started to warm up because I had a gig on the weekend [at the Whisky A GoGo] and I wanted to practice my solo-guitar spot. Our producer, Ted Templeman, happened to walk by and he asked, ‘What’s that? Let’s put it on tape!’
“I played it two times for the record, and we kept the one that seemed to flow. Ted liked it, and everyone else agreed that we should throw it on the album. I didn’t even play it right—there’s a mistake at the top end of it. Whenever I hear it, I always think, Man, I could’ve played it better.”
The long descending growl at the end was created using a Univox EC-80 echo unit that Ed housed in an old WWII practice bomb that he picked up from a junkyard. The Univox works off of a cartridge like tape, similar to an 8-track tape. Eddie recalls, “It had a miniature 8-track cassette in it, and the way it would adjust the rate of repeat was by the speed of the motor, not by tape heads. So, if you recorded something on tape, the faster you played the motor back, the faster it would repeat and vice versa. I liked some of the noises I got out of it, but its motor would always burn out.
“I like the way ‘Eruption’ sounds. I’d never heard a guitar sound like that before.”
Half of the song was used in Warner Brothers promotional video for the band’s first album. It was used as an introduction to the band and the set of succeeding videos. Eddie is introduced first, followed by Alex, Mike, and then Dave.
From Guitar World:
It is hard to imagine a more appropriately titled piece of music than Edward Van Halen’s solo guitar showcase, “Eruption.” When the wildly innovative instrumental was released in 1978, it hit the rock guitar community like a hydrogen bomb. Two-handed tapping, gonzo whammy bar dips, artificial harmonics—with Van Halen’s masterly application of these and other techniques, “Eruption” made every other six-stringer look like a third-stringer.
The first few seconds are practically a direct lift from the intro to “Let Me Swim” by seventies boogies rockers Cactus. But what follows is arguably the most inventive, groundbreaking and utterly mind blowing rock guitar demonstration of the past 35 years. Eddie’s instrumental tour de force explodes with lightning fast runs, screaming pinch harmonics, insane dive bombs, not too 18th-century violin etudes and furious tremolo picking, among other techniques. And if the song doesn’t necessarily represent the first time a guitar player ever tapped, it is at least the first time people heard a guitarist tap for a good half minute. To this day, it’s the yardstick by which all shredfests are measured.
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