Eddie Van Halen shredding with his band in 1975. (Kevin Estrada) Early in the summer of 1973, singer David Lee Roth and guitarist Eddie Van Halen performed together for the first time. Playing in front of an audience of buzzed students from John Muir, Blair and Pasadena high schools in an east Pasadena backyard, this embryonic version of Van Halen, then called Mammoth, blasted out songs by Black Sabbath, Grand Funk Railroad and Cream, rattling windows and shattering eardrums while party attendees chugged keg beer.
Last week, Eddie Van Halen died from cancer, at age 65, and tributes to his transformational musical contributions poured in from around the world. But long before anyone outside of the San Gabriel Valley had heard of the band, this pairing of two aspiring musicians who had little in common save their long hair drew together a generation of hard-rock-loving SoCal teens. The Pasadena chapter of the Van Halen story begins in 1962. That year, the Van Halen family — 7-year-old Eddie, his older brother, Alex, and their parents, Jan and Eugenia — emigrated to America from Holland. They spoke no English, making the trip with a few suitcases, about $15 and the family’s […]