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  1. When I came to Portland I was a professional bass player and
    I got work. Life was beautiful but I blew out my wrist with one too
    many bass solos so I switched to the guitar. I was studying the usual
    Guitar Gods and though I couldn't play like them, at least I knew
    what they were doing. Then Eddie Van Halen's solo on "Beat It" came
    to my attention and I had no idea what the hell he was doing - how he
    was generating that kind of firepower. I plunged in to find out. Was
    it computer generated? What I learned was the tapping technique. It
    should be noted that some acoustic playing dude in Europe was the
    first to play this way but Eddie came next and whereas the dude from
    Europe was basically riding in a horse-drawn carriage, Eddie strapped
    the thing to a rocket ship and headed off to space. I bought a Kramer
    electric like he used with the lockdown tuning pegs that allowed you
    to torture the whammy bar and I became a tap-on player.
    Around 1984 Van Halen rolled through Portland and stayed at
    the hotel where I worked. The room service waiter said he had an
    extra ticket and I went for it. The thing I'll always remember is
    when the band was about to hit the stage. You could hear Eddie
    getting ready and he fired off an outstanding imitation of a blaring
    elephant. It was the prefect mood setter: "Get ready, Portland. Van
    Halen's about to come out there like a rambunctious elephant and tear
    this place apart" --- which they did. No band with just one guitarist
    ever sounded fuller. Not with Jimmy Page, Hendrix, Clapton. The only
    time where it seemed at all limited was on Jump when Eddie stuck to
    the keyboards and kissed off the guitar solo. I was now like a young
    fan of this band even though Eddie was basically my age. I saw the
    Hagar version twice. Sammy plays a decent guitar himself so that was
    fuller but nothing had the punch of that first concert. Eddie played
    the rhythm parts and lead fills at the same time. It was the essence
    of entertaining fun - rock and roll as a party. By the way, if I'm ever in a coma play "Panama" for me. If I don't respond, you'll know it's over.
    P.S. The band had an acrimonious history as we all know and
    I did see one sign of it. Someone threw a bra onstage and David Lee
    Roth picked it up and said, "I see rock and roll isn't the only thing
    that's big here in Portland." Then he turned to Eddie who was leaning
    against his amp and said, "It's too big to be Valerie's." I thought
    to myself at that moment, "What are you doing, you dumb ass? You have
    Edwardo the Great standing there and you're going to insult his
    wife?" So I saw trouble ahead but that was all down the road. On this night, Van
    Halen was in their prime and they were fantastic.

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  2. What I liked most about Eddie was that he always looked like he was having a good time while he was doing his incredible stuff. None of the pained expressions that other guitarists put on during their big solos. He always appeared as happy about what he was doing as the audience was.

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