Credit: Neil Zlozower
Tesla guitarist Frank Hannon says Eddie Van Halen’s smile and style places him forever among music’s elite, calling him “the Mozart” of rock and roll guitarists.
During a recent interview with Cassius Morris, Hannon explained why he believes that the passing of Eddie has had such a profound impact on rock music fans worldwide.
“Eddie Van Halen was very charismatic,” said Hannon. “His personality, his smile, his energy, his personality and his approach to the guitar and his innovativeness was very unique. And on one hand, he seemed like a very friendly guy. And on the other hand, he played this amazing guitar, innovative groundbreaking guitar that was like from another planet. So, yeah, I think people really gravitated towards those things. And he’ll go down in history as the Mozart of rock and roll guitar. And the same with Jimi Hendrix. I mean, Jimi Hendrix was so photogenic and had such a personality and a vibe that you can walk into Target and see a Jimi Hendrix t-shirt with his face on it and instantly recognize, ‘Oh, there’s Jimmy.’
“It’s not possible to overstate the impact he had in the ’80s and the late ’70s,” added Hannonn. “When I remember coming home from Tower Records with ‘Van Halen I’ and putting it on my Kmart turntable and hearing the intro of the album, ‘Runnin’ With The Devil’ with the sirens coming down and then that guitar, and then out of that straight into ‘Eruption’ and then into ‘Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love’. The sound of the guitar, it was just mind-blowing. And then everything he did after that, on the second album with ‘Spanish Fly’ and ‘Somebody Get Me A Doctor’, for those first four albums that VAN HALEN put out, you can’t understate the impact that he had on the guitar player and people that were going to music stores and buying guitars. All of a sudden, Gibson guitars weren’t popular anymore and it was guitars with stripes on them that were popular.”
Hannon also commented on the timeliness of Van Halen music, crediting the work done behind the boards by Van Halen producer Ted Templeman and engineer Donn Landee.
“Well, [the early albums] were underproduced. They weren’t overproduced with a lot of overdubs,” said Hannon. “Basically, those records are live in the studio. And then they colored them up with a couple of little colors here and there, but the energy that they captured live on those first Van Halen albums is so real and powerful and high energy that that’ll last forever… Plus they had great songs, and the songwriting. That’s the difference between any band, is the songs, really. And ‘Little Dreamer’ and ‘Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love’ on that first album. And then on the next album, ‘Dance The Night Away’ is a great, well-written song, all the way to ‘Unchained’ and ‘And The Cradle Will Rock…’. The list goes on and on — the songwriting. And then even when they had Sammy Hagar in the band — ‘Right Now’, ‘Hot Summer Nights’, ‘Why Can’t This Be Love?’. The songwriting really sets them apart.”