To me, the thing wasn't the tapping or the whammy bar... It was his ability to take a song outside the structure and key changes, play something completely out of left field that shouldn't work harmonically. Only it would resolve and I'd think "How did he get THERE?". That's what struck me about Thriller-it was his phrasing, his harmonic invention, and his ability to bring it home in a way that made sense.
Fortunate I got to see VH (with Mikey) live.
I'll never forget the guitar shaped clock with Van Halen stripes my big brother brought home after making it in shop class... that's probably where it all started, for me.
Eddie was already a legend before I knew what an electric guitar was. I remember seeing teens wearing VH t-shirts before I remember hearing a VH song--they were so cool. I was in 6th grade when 1984 was released and it was one of the first albums I bought with my own money. I listened to it everyday for at least a year.
A few years later, while in jr. high, I remember the many discussions and heated arguments I had with my friends about VH with Sammy—man, 5150 was a killer album. I bought and loved OU812. On July 24, 1988 my friends and I went to the Monsters of Rock show at the Los Angeles Coliseum. That show would best remembered by most for the riot that occurred when Metallica played but I’ll remember it for seeing EVH play from the 1st row—thanks to the breakdown of security caused by the riot.
I picked up the guitar around the same time. I remember how proud I was when I learned how to play Ain’t Talkin Bout Love. I wanted to be like Eddie. I loved and F.U.C.K. and Balance and saw them when they toured for those albums. At my wedding reception in 2008 I insisted that Jump played during our introduction and You Really Got Me was the last song of the night. I remained loyal to the band and enjoyed listening to songs from their catalogue over and over.
Even though I didn’t know him, I am deeply saddened by his loss as his music was such a huge part of my life.