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Rock & Roll Heaven

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Eddie Van Halen passed away recently. He was 65, which is still a little young these days, but not necessarily young for a rock star, I suppose when you think of all the musicians who have died young. But younger than David Bowie and Tom Petty, two other rockers who died in recent years.

He also had been battling cancer for a number of years, so it wasn’t exactly a shocker to hear of Eddie’s passing…

just one more gut punch from 2020, I guess.

I’ve always been a rock music fan. My Mom brought me up on Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Eagles and the Rolling Stones. And in my teen years, I got into all the “hair bands” of the day, especially Guns N’ Roses. Van Halen was always one of those bands that virtually everyone agreed were just cool, even if you didn’t especially like their songs. They had a few big hits, including “Jump,” which you can’t help but sing along to when it comes on the radio. But Eddie’s most-heard riffs likely weren’t even on a Van Halen song. His guitar work on Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” are unmistakably Van Halen-esque.

The Righteous Brothers had a song back in the day called “Rock and Roll Heaven,” suggesting that all of the music greats who pass away get to join an eternal jam session featuring the likes of Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix… and now presumably Prince, and the aforementioned Petty, Bowie and Jackson.

I suppose it’s a little comforting to imagine Eddie entering the pearly gates with his signature “Frankenstrat” and plugging into the heavenly amps. I don’t know if that’s really how it works, but like the Righteous Brothers sang, “If there’s a Rock and Roll Heaven, well you know they’ve got a hell of a band.”

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