One year ago today we lost one of the most impactful guitarists of the last 100 years. A man who’s work is celebrated by the layman and worshiped as gospel by musicians. Eddie Van Halen may no longer be with us, but his work still stands to remind us every day how to have fun and how to rock. Here are our top eight greatest solos of his career.
8. Hang Em’ High
“The solo was just loose, fun, craziness,” Eddie says about the Western inspired song.
From ‘Diver Down’ this solo is backed by an unrelenting drum beat whose structure sets up Ed to just go crazy.
7. Push Comes to Shove
In an attempt to capitolize on the reggae trend at the time, the band went in a very strange direction with this one. A slow and winding backing beat, featuring some light bongo work and a prominent bassline, the song ended up producing a strangely amazing solo from Ed.
In rare form the solo starts off with a musical break featuring some clean, almost shoegazey guitar, which is quickly and powerfully interupted with the jaziest solo we’ve heard from EVH. A piece that almost sounds like Joe Satriani could’ve written it.
It’s precision and intention in every note make this a clear standout.
6. China Town
Heavy, full-throttled fun, this solo is rife with masterful arpeggiations and Eddie’s signature tapping. Featured on the certainly under appreciated ‘A Different Kind of Truth’ the solo stands nonetheless amongst the best he’s written.
5. Hot for Teacher
Even in their sixth studio album the group continued to produce mind-numbing solos from Eddie that efforlessly traverse many, many subgenres of rock.
“Hot for Teacher” is a wild ride that places you in the middle of a Western, or possibly an Americana film about driving cross country on your motorcycle. This fast-paced blues-rock anthem releases a deluge of good energy that flows through the listener.
Oh, and the solo absolutely shreds.
4. You’re No Good
Gritty and melodic, the solo to “You’re No Good” is insanely expressive and acts as a passioned call and response to the main vocal. This Linda Ronstadt. cover is pure rock n’ roll and sets a powerful tone for ‘Van Halen II.’
Funny enough, Eddie admited years later that he had actually never heard the original. Oops
3. Beat It
With a song as massively famous as this Michael Jackson masterpiece, we felt this pick a little cliched though still warranting a spot.
This rare departure from Van Halen gifted us one of the most well known Eddie solos ever and it was said he wrote it in just a half an hour. It is also reported he kept the collobration under wraps thinking no one would ever listen to this “kids” record.
It is now one of the most listened to songs ever. Busted!
2. I’m the One
From their debut album, this solo is just classic Eddie. Fast and chugging, the song builds in energy until it’s about to burst. And then – Eddie.
This two part solo bends, snaps and taps your pulse to unhealthy levels and releases you just as you might pass out. And then – Eddie again!
The second part even more impressive and likely more than most the stuff on this list to enduce hand cramps just from listening to it.
THE song that blew every young guitarists’ minds when they first heard it. A song that opened your mind to the possibilities yet untamed on the fretboard, opened the gates of admiration and posibility, and opened your musical third eye.
This guitar solo, disguised as a song, is everything that makes Eddie a lasting figure in our hearts. The culmination of all his talent and innovation.
Though maybe a little cliched, no other song could sit at number one.