Happy Birthday to Eddie Van Halen, who turns 61 today, January 26th.
Born Edward Lodewijk Van Halen was born in the Netherlands, to a Dutch clarinetist/saxophonist/pianist and an Indonesian Euroasian mother. Eddie’s middle name of Lodewijk is actually the Dutch version of Ludwig, for Ludwig van Beethoven.
The family relocated from the Netherlands to Pasadena in 1962, where both Eddie and his older brother Alex studied piano. After being bored by the piano, Eddie eventually began learning the guitar, which his brother already played, which he would play around the house or in his room for hours.
The brothers created their first band when Eddie was in the fourth grade, performing during their lunch hour at school, and bringing to light his dream to be a professional musician.
Before the official band name of Van Halen, the group originally was called Genesis in 1982, eventually changing to Mammoth due to another group having the same name. The name of the band was later changed to Van Halen after David Lee Roth, who joined the group after renting a P.A. system to the guys, said Eddie’s last name “sounded cool.”
After Gene Simmons heard the group perform in 1976, he produced a demo tape with the group. Eventually they were at the right place at the right time, got signed by Warner Bros. Records and released their first Van Halen album on February 10, 1978.
Below are five of Van Halen’s biggest hits:
“Jump” – From the album 1984, released in 1983. It’s their only single to ever reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100.
“Panama” – Also from the album 1984, it was released in June of 1984. It reached number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100.
“Jamie’s Cryin'” – From their debut self-titled album in 1978 and is about a girl who regrets having a one-night stand.
“(Oh) Pretty Woman” – Van Halen covered the original Roy Orbison song on their 1982 album Diver Down. It ended up peaking at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 1oo.
“Runnin’ With The Devil” – This was the second single released from their debut 1978 self-titled album, released in May of the same year.