There have been a lot of tributes over the last three months devoted to Eddie Van Halen’s legendary guitar playing. Engineer Dennis Ward has decided to remind fans that Eddie was also one of the best keyboardists in music by highlighting Van Halen’s 1986 hit single “Why Can’t This Be Love”.
“We all know Eddie for his amazing, wonderful guitar playing,” said Ward in the video above. “[But] a lot of people forget that he was actually a very, very good piano-slash-keyboard player as well – as you know with songs like ‘Jump’, where they had huge international success. Today we’ve chosen a song from their ‘5150’ album called ‘Why Can’t This Be Love’.”
Ward, who noted that the song was produced by Mick Jones and Donn Landee, pointed out the difference between the production of the new Hagar-era Van Halen as opposed to the early David Lee Roth-era recordings.
“What was really unique about Van Halen in their first two albums was this concept of putting guitar on one side and putting reverb on the other side and making it very live sounding; making it sound like they’re on the stage,” said Ward. “He has one guitar, nothing was doubled. Often when the solo came in, the rhythm guitar dropped out and they kept it real. With [‘5150’] they went on a completely different thing. They’re doubling the guitars, you’ve got keyboards…I’m very impressed that they went to such a drastic change between the previous album [‘1984’].
He continued, “I know a lot of guitar bands that won’t have a keyboard in their music to save their lives [but Van Halen] went all out. They went synth bass, synth [on keyboards] and synth drums so – hats off.”
There’s much more Ward had to say about the track, including his thoughts on Sammy Hagar’s “clean” vocals, Alex Van Halen’s “electric” drums and Michael Anthony’s basslines, which are impressively “doubled up” with the synth bass lines.
Dennis Ward is known for his various works as a producer for heavy metal and hard rock bands in Europe, as well as for being the bassist and founder of the bands Pink Cream 69 and Unisonic. He also performs lead vocals for the AOR studio project Khymera.
In 2017, he joined a new band called Panorama. The same year he also joined Firewind and former Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Gus G to produce his solo album ‘Fearless’ and be part of his supporting band as the bass player and vocalist. Ward was announced as the new bassist of British band Magnum in 2019 and is currently a tutor at HOFA-College, the online academy for audio engineering & music production.