Los Angeles should now be renamed the City of Rock ‘N’ Roll Angels.
The Los Angeles City Council honored Eddie Van Halen during a recent council meeting. John Popoch, the Deputy Chief of Staff for Councilmember Bob Blumenfield, has just shared the special Memorial Certificate and tribute text with the Van Halen News Desk.
“I thought you and the fans might like to know we adjourned the Los Angeles City Council meeting on Oct. 20th in Eddie’s memory,” Popoch told VHND. “My boss, Councilmember Bob Blumenfield, read the talking points attached and we also produced the attached Memorial Certificate. I wrote the talking points because I am fortunate to be in the position I am now. Being a Van Halen fan since I was a little kid in Ottawa, Canada, I was able to have the Councilmember do the adjournment.”
Eddie Van Halen Adjourning Motion
As read by Councilmember Bob Blumenfield in Los Angeles City Council on Tues. Oct. 20, 2020. Written and Compiled by John Popoch, Deputy Chief of Staff, and lifelong Van Halen fan.
One of the San Fernando Valley’s adopted sons, Eddie Van Halen, passed away on Oct. 6th at the age of 65. Considered by experts to arguably be the greatest guitarist of all-time, he’s been called the Mozart of guitar. He created sounds that had never been done before; haven’t been done since, but have had countless imitators.
A self-taught prodigy, Van Halen reinvented the way a guitar could be played by using a “tapping” technique with both hands on the neck that changed how it sounded and impacted generations of kids to want to play the guitar ever since. He even changed how the guitar was made, often building his own instruments.
Van Halen was born in the Netherlands, raised in Pasadena, eventually lived in the San Fernando Valley, and built his famous 5150 Studio just minutes from Ventura Blvd on Coldwater Canyon, where his group Van Halen recorded several of their albums.
He was the son of an Indonesian-born Eurasian mother, and a Dutch clarinetist, saxophonist and pianist father. And in 1962, the Van Halen family left Holland on a boat for America after receiving letters about the wonders of California. Theirs was the story of many immigrants.
They had 15 dollars, a couple of suitcases and their piano, but once they settled in Pasadena, Eddie’s father had to work as a dishwasher at the Methodist Hospital in Arcadia and his mother cleaned houses to help support them while both parents continued to inspire Eddie and his brother, Alex, to become musicians by getting them piano lessons.
Eddie eventually heard The Dave Clark Five, discovered rock and roll and decided to become a drummer while his brother, Alex, played guitar. Once his brother picked up the sticks and played “Wipeout” by The Ventures on drums, they both realized they’d be better off trading instruments. And Alex has been quoted as saying, as soon as he heard Eddie play guitar, he knew they needed to switch.
During their high school years in Pasadena it was the time of busing and that’s how they met eventual lead singer, David Lee Roth, who helped bridge all the ethnic backgrounds and races as the band played countless backyard parties and changed the name of their popular local band, Mammoth, to Van Halen.
Eddie’s independent style of “tapping,” had brother Alex tell him in the early years to conceal that from the audience until they got a record deal so no one would steal his technique. After that, many tried to imitate him, but as another great guitarist, Steve Vai, said, “I could never play like him. I never tried. Only an idiot competes with Eddie Van Halen.”
In 1978, they released their first album, Van Halen, which would sell two million copies before years’ end, and his solo on “Eruption” had the music world in awe. It was later chosen as the greatest guitar solo of all time by the readers of Guitar World magazine.
It’s been said that Eddie Van Halen was never fully comfortable with the attention and fame that came with the music. He just wanted to make people happy. He was once asked about being called a guitar hero and answered: “It’s nice but c’mon, I’m just a punk kid who plays guitar.” Well, Guitar World Magazine held a poll in 2012 of the 100 greatest of all-time and that punk kid ranked number one.
It was also this down-to-earth attitude that endeared him to his fans. As one
reporter said, “A piece of your youth dies with (Eddie) and the memories and positive emotions he created take on new meaning.”
He was loved across all genres of music as proved when producer Quincy Jones asked him to play the guitar solo on Michael Jackson’s hit single, “Beat It,” which Eddie did without compensation because he said it was “only 20 minutes of work.” Van Halen the group went on to release a dozen albums all going platinum or gold including 1984, which featured their number one hit, “Jump,” which featured Eddie playing keyboards. After this, Sammy Hagar became lead singer.
A very short list of their biggest hits include, “Runnin’ With The Devil,” “Unchained,” “Ain’t Talkin ‘Bout Love,” “Best of Both Worlds,” “Dreams” and “Right Now.”
Beyond music, Van Halen was a generous man with his money and his time,
donating funds, personal appearances and instruments to local institutions and causes.
It was during this line-up that he and wife, Valerie Bertinelli, gave birth to their son, Wolfgang, who attended school here in the San Fernando Valley.
Eventually, Wolfgang would play bass in the band with his father, and they kept rolling out hits, recording their last studio album in 2012. One of the constants you hear through all of this was that Eddie Van Halen was a regular guy with an amazing talent and skill who just loved his son dearly and had a great smile and was kind to everyone when you would see him and his family around the Valley.
Sadly, Eddie Van Halen battled cancer beginning approximately 20 years ago when he had to have part of his tongue removed. The cancer came back years later with a vengeance and spread to his throat. He continued to make music and tour as it went into remission, but eventually it would spread again and take his life.
Eddie Van Halen will be remembered for his infectious smile, his kindness and that once-in-a-lifetime innovative guitar-playing which will continue to influence aspiring musicians for generations to come.
He is survived by his wife, Jane; brother, Alex; ex-wife Valerie Bertinelli and their son, Wolfgang; and many other family members and legions of fans.
May he rest in peace and power chords.