On October 6th, 2020, the world lost one of its greatest guitar gods. The legendary Eddie Van Halen passed away after a battle with throat cancer. His virtuosic playing remained unrivaled, a perfect flow of shred and melody that connected the worlds of classic rock, heavy metal, and pop. He was as ambitious a songwriter as he was a guitarist, pushing his eponymous band, Van Halen, to the forefront of the rock mainstream with a string of iconic hits such as “Running with the Devil”, “Jump”, and “Panama”.
Eddie never compromised on his vision for the band, and when singer David Lee Roth departed to pursue a solo career, Van Halen enlisted the Red Rocker, Sammy Hagar, to take his place as frontman. Although the band shifted toward a more AOR sound, the Van Hagar format still found success with hits like “Why Can’t This Be Love” and “Right Now” — a testament to Eddie’s relentlessness.
But no matter who was fronting Van Halen, at the core the music was Eddie’s imitable guitar work. He could shred like water flows, notes cascading with superhuman speed. But he could also tease sounds out of his Frankenstrat that still seem impossible. Any drunken debate over the “GOAT” of guitar deserves a solid argument for Eddie Van Halen. His legacy lives on in his music and the incredible guitar tracks he laid down on Van Halen’s studio albums. To honor the late legend, we look back on his 10 greatest riffs: