Eddie Van Halen, whose high-flying guitar licks and fun-loving songwriting helped bridge the gap between 1970′s blues rock and the popular metal acts of the 1980s, died Tuesday at 65.
Van Halen was a pioneering guitarist whose lightning-fast style and flashy showmanship wowed listeners and audiences for decades. Here are some of his most notable moments.
Warning: Some songs below may contain explicit language or mature content.
“Eruption,” the second song on Van Halen’s debut 1978 album, has been called one of the most influential guitar tracks in history. The instrumental, less than two minutes long, showcased the frenetic chops and signature style that would make Eddie Van Halen a guitar hero for decades to come.
Beat It guitar solo
Eddie Van Halen quickly gained a reputation as a guitar virtuoso both inside and out of the music industry. Michael Jackson even enlisted him to play the guitar solo on “Beat It” from his album “Thriller,” the best-selling record of all time.
1984 and MTV
Few rock bands embraced the 1980s MTV era like Van Halen. For the band’s hit record “1984,” Eddie Van Halen learned to play the synthesizer and employed the instrument alongside his guitarwork to produce a rich new sound.
Their music videos ran practically non-stop on MTV, with hits “Jump,” “Panama,” and “Hot for Teacher” becoming staples for a new generation that watched music instead of just listening to it.
‘Back to the Future’
By the mid-1980s, Van Halen’s success and Eddie’s distinctive sounds had elevated the band to the status of cultural shorthand. One example came from the hit 1985 movie “Back to the Future”, where a character played by Michael J. Fox travels back in time. Looking to terrify a young man from the 1950s, Fox slides a Van Halen tape into a recorder. The audience gets the joke before Fox even hits the play button -- an unsuspecting member of the Elvis generation is about to be abruptly introduced to the future through Eddie Van Halen’s otherworldly guitar licks.
Lead singer change
Popular frontman David Lee Roth left the group in 1985, and was replaced with Sammy Hager. The band continued unabated: Eddie Van Halen’s songwriting matured and led to multiple top-selling records, including 1991′s “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge.”