Opinion: Where Does Eddie Van Halen Rank Among Guitar Gods?
Written by dariandudrick on October 7, 2020
The rock group Van Halen is widely known in the music world for its turbulent change in lead vocalist, from David Lee Roth to Sammy Hagar.
But the one thing that never changed since the band’s critically acclaimed self-titled debut album in 1978 were the innovative and magical sounds from the group’s lead guitarist.
Eddie Van Halen died Tuesday after a long battle with cancer. He was 65.
From the powerful “Eruption” / “You Really Got Me,” the powerful “Eruption” / “You Really Got Me,” to his work on the group’s “1984” LP (specifically the No. 1 hit “Jump”), where does Eddie Van Halen rank among the greatest guitarists in rock ‘n’ roll history?
Let the debate begin.
Alone in Tier 1 is THE greatest: Jimi Hendrix.
The lefty from Seattle put the hard rock/heavy metal sound on the map with his explosive performance at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, and the rest, as they say, is history.
In Tier 2, I have four other Hall-of-Famers: Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Keith Richards and Chuck Berry (not in any specific order).
As for Tier 3, that’s where I’d put Eddie Van Halen; no higher than No. 6. (However, there are a bunch of other guitarists who can make a strong case for No. 6.)
Regardless, it’s really difficult to justify placing Eddie Van Halen in the top five, especially considering all of the iconic songs, guitar solos and influence that Berry, Clapton, Page and Richards brought during their storied careers.
But one thing is for certain: Eddie Van Halen is the greatest guitar player to come on the scene in the last 42 years. No question.
And that puts him in a class by himself.