Eruption: Conversations with Eddie Van Halen

Hachette. Oct. 2021. 336p. ISBN 9780306826658. $28. MUSIC
Music writers Tolinski (Light & Shade: Conversations with Jimmy Page) and Gill (Guitar Legends: The Definitive Guide to the World’s Greatest Guitar Players) combed through hours of their previously unpublished interviews with Eddie Van Halen for a revealing biography of the guitar god, who died in 2020. Most chapters have a substantial introduction, an interview with Van Halen, and sometimes a page devoted to the guitarist’s gear. The authors also work in their interviews with insiders: Van Halen’s bandmates Michael Anthony, Gary Cherone, and Wolfgang Van Halen (the guitarist’s son); manager Ray Danniels; and fellow guitarists Tony Iommi, Steve Lukather, and Steve Vai. Tolinski and Gill illuminate Van Halen’s difficult childhood in California as a Dutch immigrant who spoke no English; his rise to fame on the Los Angeles club circuit; and his achievement of stardom, with millions of albums sold. There’s particular focus on Van Halen’s guitar tapping technique; his heavily modified guitars, including the Frankenstrat; and his persistent health problems and untimely death from cancer.
VERDICT Fans and guitar enthusiasts will appreciate this fresh look at the legendary Van Halen, with an emphasis on his technical wizardry; their work will supplement other books about the Van Halen legacy.
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