“I first heard Van Halen on the radio at a party in college, and it sounded like electric adrenaline. When this sonic elixir hit the country, it unleashed hard rock hysteria. At that time, the identity of most drummers was buried in triggers and reverb. But when you heard Alex, his sound and energy were undeniable, and the tone quality of Michael Anthony’s background singing was also a distinctive stamp on the band’s overall vibe.
“Edward’s contribution to rock guitar is immeasurable. It is only the most elite of elite musicians whose unconventional approach becomes convention. Some people are so utterly original that they can do only what comes naturally to them. Although Edward’s technique shattered prevailing standards, it was his choice of notes and the way he phrased them that were the auditory expression of his personality. And that personality was enchanting on many levels.
“David Lee Roth had a fiercely confident persona. He oozed chutzpah and eroticism. Those were the things that defined him as an entertainer, and they were the things his audiences lusted after. It always amused me to see pseudo rock stars of the time feverishly attempting to copy his brilliance. Remember all those half-assed airborne leg splits to some watered-down, cookie-cutter version of “Panama”? Those novices never truly understood the self-discipline and focused vision Dave had in achieving his goals. He was underailable and intense, very intense. Did I mention he was intense?
“Music fans often speculate about what the band might be like today if it hadn’t gone through so many breakups. Who knows? Maybe they’d be selling out the entire Sahara Desert by now. But if Dave had always stayed in the band, I would never have had the chance to join his solo group. And I would never have gotten to Eat ’Em and Smile.”
— Steve Vai, from the hardcover photo book, Van Halen: A Visual History, by Neil Zlozower.