TESLA's FRANK HANNON: EDDIE VAN HALEN 'Will Go Down In History As The MOZART Of Rock And Roll Guitar'

January 5, 2024

In a new interview with Cassius Morris, TESLA guitarist Frank Hannon was asked why he thinks Eddie Van Halen's death has been so hard for rock music fans around the world to grapple with. He responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Well, Eddie Van Halen was very charismatic. His personality, his smile, his energy, his personality and his approach to the guitar and his innovativeness was very unique. And on one hand, he seemed like a very friendly guy. And on the other hand, he played this amazing guitar, innovative groundbreaking guitar that was like from another planet. So, yeah, I think people really gravitated towards those things. And he'll go down in history as the Mozart of rock and roll guitar. And the same with Jimi Hendrix. I mean, Jimi Hendrix was so photogenic and had such a personality and a vibe that you can walk into Target and see a Jimi Hendrix t-shirt with his face on it and instantly recognize, 'Oh, there's Jimmy.'"

Asked if it is "possible to overstate Eddie Van Halen's influence on the guitar", Frank said: "Well, yeah, it's a possibility, because I've ran into a lot of people who don't like his style of playing, believe it or not — people that are blues purists or people who don't really like the hammer-ons and that kind of playing. But no, it is not possible to overstate the impact he had in the '80s and the late '70s when I remember coming home from Tower Records with 'Van Halen I' and putting it on my Kmart turntable and hearing the intro of the album, 'Runnin' With The Devil' with the sirens coming down and then that guitar, and then out of that straight into 'Eruption' and then into 'Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love'. The sound of the guitar, it was just mindblowing. And then everything he did after that, on the second album with 'Spanish Fly' and 'Somebody Get Me A Doctor', for those first four albums that VAN HALEN put out, you can't understate the impact that he had on the guitar player and people that were going to music stores and buying guitars. All of a sudden, Gibson guitars weren't popular anymore and it was guitars with stripes on them that were popular."

When Morris noted that the classic VAN HALEN albums still hold up production-wise nearly 50 years later, Frank said: "Well, they were underproduced. They weren't overproduced with a lot of overdubs. Basically, those records are live in the studio. And then they colored them up with a couple of little colors here and there, but the energy that they captured live on those first VAN HALEN albums is so real and powerful and high energy that that'll last forever… Plus they had great songs, and the songwriting. That's the difference between any band, is the songs, really. And 'Little Dreamer' and 'Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love' on that first album. And then on the next album, 'Dance The Night Away' is a great, well-written song, all the way to 'Unchained' and 'And The Cradle Will Rock…'. The list goes on and on — the songwriting. And then even when they had Sammy Hagar in the band — 'Right Now', 'Hot Summer Nights', 'Why Can't This Be Love?'. The songwriting really sets them apart."

This is not the first time that Eddie Van Halen has been compared to one of history's greatest composers, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Back in November 2020, Wolfgang Van Halen told "Entertainment Tonight" about his father's legacy: "I think he's the Mozart of our generation. I think the way we look back at people like Mozart and Beethoven, from how far we are removed from them, you put that amount of time ahead of us, and I think people will still be looking back at him."

In October 2020, former ROB ZOMBIE and current MÖTLEY CRÜE guitarist John 5 said: "Eddie Van Halen was a modern-day Mozart, and it is just so sad to see him go. He was so young. He is immortal and will live on forever. He was an inventor and the greatest guitar player of all time... The thing is, he took guitar to such new places that no one has done before, and he was just such an incredible player. And on top of all of that, he was an incredible songwriter too."

Eddie Van Halen died in October 2020 at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California. Following his death, fans left flowers at his childhood home on Las Lunas Street in Pasadena, California. Additional flowers, candles and fan mementos were placed on Allen Avenue where Eddie and his brother, VAN HALEN drummer Alex, scratched their band's name into the wet cement of a sidewalk when they were teenagers.

After Eddie was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer, he began flying to Germany for treatments. Eventually, the cancer spread to Eddie's spine and brain. Just a few months later, Eddie died at age 65.

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