My Open Reflections of Eddie
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  1. #1
    Hang 'Em High

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    Default My Open Reflections of Eddie

    Little something I wrote..

    Grief, Gratitude, and Greatness

    Reflections of Eddie Van Halen on His Birthday

    Somewhere circa 1984 (I know go figure) my parents used to take us to this pizza joint on the east coast called Nicky’s. The pizza was stellar and of course my parents loved the beer. My sister and I? The jukebox. It was all about the jukebox. We got quarters like candy, and in between eating and drinking (no not that kind of drinking) we ran over and played all kinds of songs we liked from back in the day. One of the songs we played constantly was Beat It by Michael Jackson. I don’t know what it was, the guitar just stuck with me. It electrified me- even as a kid I felt a sense of excitement and got amped up, (pun not intended ) only to play it over and over again.

    I have vivid recollections of being in the front seat when my mom was driving (yeah you could sit in the front seat as a kid then) hearing Van Halen music on the radio- Jump, Panama, Hot for Teacher. I was in charge of the radio- or so I thought I was. Nothing like rolling down the powered windows in that Chevy Impala- that was prime time. Arm on the window’s edge, VH playing- prime view of the roads...and no, I’m not using that line from Panama here.

    I wanted to learn guitar when i was a kid- sometime around the age or 11 or 12 I’m guessing- I got this guitar that wasn’t a real guitar but sounded like one. Maybe I was younger- I dunno. My cousin- who is a tremendous guitar player- picked it up and started doing this weird thing with his fingers and it sounded cool as hell. What’s that I asked? “That’s Eruption, son”. I was hooked. He could have played anything- Zeppelin, Clapton, Hendrix, Vai, whoever and whatever. For whatever reason that day- he played Van Halen.

    Where were you when JFK died? Where were you during 9/11; or when MLK or John Lennon died? Where were you when Eddie Van Halen died? I still cannot believe I type that- past tense comes across as very...permanent.

    The afternoon of Tuesday October 6th 2020 I was in my garage- moving things around as I’ve had slight delusions of grandeur that I would transform it into a home gym. My wife who is a special education teacher was online working with her students and my mom happened to be over helping my kids with schoolwork- as she’s a retired school teacher herself. I was home on a telework day although there wasn’t much to do- aside from a phone conference I was on that day around 2pm. As I was listening to music and drinking my coffee, I was texting back and forth with some friends about some things- mundane really- sports, politics, nothing important. At 12:36 that afternoon, I got a text from a childhood friend that I went to grammar school with years ago. All it said was, “oh NO Eddie Van Halen ugh”.

    Everything got real quiet in my existence at that time. Everything was still. I describe it as similar to the feeling when you go underwater. The sound just cuts out and it’s just...well...quiet. I immediately did a google search and saw the headlines- and the social media feed from Eddie’s son Wolfgang that Eddie had indeed died from cancer. I had heard through a couple of people Eddie had been really ill so it was not a surprise. Be that as it may, it didn’t make it any easier. I started texting some fellow VH fans about it and I noticed I felt numb. I told myself to stop and just be for a moment. And then the grief came. I walked inside with tears coming from my eyes- my kids looking at me like uh-oh what happened. My mom asks if I got something in my eye because she knew I was mounting a television out there. All I could say was, “he died”. Who died?! She exclaimed. “Eddie...he died”.

    Say no more- my mother understands my affinity for his music. She accompanied me to a 2004 show in Anaheim. She had a great time. She still contends she couldn’t hear properly for a week after the show- and I still get a good laugh about it. She did what any mom would do at that moment- she wanted to console me. “He’s been sick a long time”, she said. “I know”. I didn’t want to bother my wife. I didn’t know what to do. So I did what I always did when I needed a spiritual or emotional lift- I played some Van Halen.

    I went outside to my yard with a beer and music. I was dreading getting on that call later. After having a beer and listening to some tunes I walked inside and my daughter slowly walked by me, kinda stopped, and just smiled at me. It took everything I had not to lose it when she did that. There was something sweet and innocent about it- I kept it together. She knew daddy was sad. And the fact that her name is Halen made it even harder for me to keep it together. Weeks later my little 8 year old girl said, “daddy, you named me Halen because Eddie inspired you”? Yes sweetheart. What is understood doesn’t need to be discussed.

    As the days and weeks went on- I was moved by the outpouring of love and reflections about Eddie and his music- and also how generous he was with his charitable works. He did a lot of amazing things. Seeing random billboards being erected on highways and freeways across the country touched me. The one that said You Really Got Us still gets to me. Church bells were ringing in Europe, musicians and fans from around the globe spoke glowingly about Eddie. I really enjoyed when Keith Urban described Eddie as being one of the rare people who “brings a different color to the rainbow”.

    Eddie Van Halen’s death was our generation’s John Lennon. The King, as he has been called for decades, was no longer here with us in earthly form. Some have described him as “the Mozart of this generation”. No one since Jimmy Hendrix has come on the scene and done what Eddie did. In fact, I’ll go and say Eddie has done more for the guitar, its manufacturing, music, equipment, and all that goes with it than anyone else. His footprint, or handprint I should say, is absolutely everywhere. And, if you haven’t put two and two together yet, that’s Eddie playing the guitar solo on Beat It.

    The day he passed, when my mom left, I walked her out and she was telling me to take it easy because my kids were worried about me. My 8 year old son (yes I have twins) would just smile too. As my mom got into her car I looked down at the ground and saw this little red circle. As I wiped away a few tears, I picked it up out of curiosity. It was a small red circle- like a button- about the size of a nickel. In red letters on the other side it said “Perfect”. That’s it. That’s all it said. I don’t know what it is or where it was from. I still have it...and something about that very moment seemed so very appropriate to me. Eddie Van Halen’s music was just that- perfect.

    I managed to see VH 13 times- not a lot compared to many. My only regret is my kids were never old enough to see them- they wanted to go. They would always ask me if it was loud. I would just laugh- oh yeah..it’s loud. I think this is what I’ll miss the most- the anticipation of looking forward to something. There will forever be a void now because I cannot go somewhere to see him anymore. Every tour- getting tickets, planning a budget and never sticking to it. Where do I sit? How early do I get to the venue? Finally getting there, checking out the merchandise, getting some food and drinks. So many wonderful memories. There’s really nothing quite like that moment when it’s about a minute before the band comes on stage. There’s an energy that is really indescribable- palpable. People scurrying back to their seats and all eyes fixed on stage. Sometimes Eddie would peak out from behind the amps and waive at the fans in the upper tiers off to the side. They would go completely nuts. At that moment you knew...strap in. The man is about to hit the stage. Lights go down- and all you hear is this rumble from his guitar- loud enough to shake the arena, or as my buddy put it- loud enough where your balls rattle against your pant leg. Yes, he said that. And yes I’m writing that. In that moment your adrenaline is just heightened. Watching Eddie play live was always a gift. And watching him up close was a spiritual experience. He looked cooler than everyone else and had fun all the while- basically because he knew no one did what he did.

    I’m especially thankful my wife saw them with me. Eddie would only play 2 more shows after the one we saw- as there were only two more left on that 2015 tour after our show. I remember walking to our 3rd row seats- she turned and looked at me like are you serious? So after Kenny Wayne Shepherd played she expressed a desire for earplugs. She had some that we bought at the show before it started. She asked how much louder it would get. Again I laughed. Loud. Haha. I remember Eddie talking about growing up banging on pots and pans with his brother Alex- and that everything “had to be loud”. Sometime during the show she took them out for a moment and then yelled “oh hell no”.

    Being a fan was always like a big family reunion. Every 3 or 4 years everyone would go get together to watch Eddie and the band play and have a good time. That’s not going to happen anymore- and I’m still not settled with that. I’m sorry for the pain his son and family have endured. Losing such a loving and talented person to cancer so young is a kick in the gut. His passing is a reminder of how precious time is and how precious family is. It’s also a reminder of how powerful music is. His music has changed my life and I’m forever grateful.

    A young and budding guitarist by the name of Jason Becker recently released a video of when Eddie visited him around 1996 or so. Jason has been battling Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS) for years. Eddie did a lot for Jason and his family. During the video Eddie is playing guitar for them and talks about where his ideas and inspiration come from. He puts his hands up in the air and said it comes from him- pointing to the sky. “It just comes through me”. Eddie was meant to play the guitar- nevermind the fact that some have said he was an even better piano player than guitar player. There’s also stories of him playing note for note with Yo Yo Ma on cello- his 3rd favorite instrument. To paraphrase the Han Solo line- I used to think it was a bunch of mumbo jumbo myself. The brown sound- the tapping and rhythm playing. The classically trained young musician evolving into the greatest of showmen ever to walk the planet- changing the landscape of absolutely everything related to the guitar. Crazy thing is, it’s true. The solos, the respect, all of it.

    Have you ever been touched? Really touched? Can you tell me?

    My daughter’s favorite song is Panama. When I asked my son- he said Dreams. I asked him if he had a part of the song he liked the most. He said, “the part where they go (imitates Sammy and MIke) higher and higher”. I asked him how he felt when he listened to the song. “Kind of happy and kind of sad”. And there it was...the music speaks to everyone. These were all good times, damn good times.

    I could probably go on and on but this isn’t meant to be about how I think Eddie was the greatest of all time. That’s for another day. This is about the fact that we have the ability to touch and lift one another- even when we don’t know one another. Dave was right when he said “you can’t get this stuff no more”.

    I’ve put off writing this for a long time because I knew when I did it would be my official goodbye to Eddie. I’ve been celebrating his life and music since his passing. Tonight seems like the right time- on what would have been his 66th birthday.

    Sammy- truer words have never been spoken: hey Ray what you said is true, I can’t stop lovin’ you.

    Can’t stop lovin’ you... Eddie.

    Happy birthday wherever you are. Thank you for always being a bright spot in my life and in this world.

    I love and miss you dearly.

    How Many Say I?

    Your fan,

    JMJ
    "you can't change JMJ, it's legendary"- Brett Norton 9/24/07

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    "I'm doin' the victory dance. Told ya I'd be back. Tell me ya missed me. Say it like ya mean it" - Blood and Fire. =VH= 2012. Welcome back boys :headband:

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  2. #2
    Runnin' With The Devil

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    Awesome, we all feel the same way, i miss him so much, glad his music will live forever

  3. #3
    Bullethead

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    You aren’t alone man, in a strange way it’s kind of like god died. Not that I want to put EVH on that pedestal but yeah, damn. The world sucks a little more for sure. At least we got the music and the memories.

  4. #4
    Big Bad Bill

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    A couple of days ago I heard Human Wheels by John Cougar Mellencamp and the water works opened up.

  5. #5
    The Full Bug

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    Quote Originally Posted by DJ Work'in Hard View Post
    A couple of days ago I heard Human Wheels by John Cougar Mellencamp and the water works opened up.
    I can see how that could’ve happened. Human Wheels speaks the stark truth...

    This land, today, my tears shall taste
    And take into its dark embrace

  6. DJ Work'in Hard Liked This Post
  7. #6
    Light Up The Sky
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    Very heartfelt and well written, JMJ!!

    Eddie Van Halen had a profound effect with his music but also for the person he was.
    Yes, he was human and had faults like the rest of us here.
    But his generosity and love for others was just as important as the music he gave us.
    Remember the Heroes - 9/11/01

    In 2012, the phoenix has risen!!

    "High speed, low drag."

    "Look at all the people here tonight!!!" - 10/5/07, 5/20/08 Mohegan Sun

    Congratulations to Van Halen as part of the Class of 2007 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!

    Cinco de Cabo @ Foxwoods: "A giant party with live music" - S. Hagar

    got tequila?

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