Van Halen has been a huge part of the soundtrack of my life. Losing Eddie feels like someone ripped out part of my heart. Tossing in the Diver Down cassette when I was getting ready to head out was my normal Friday night ritual for years. When I started DJing in bars, before radio, “Jump” was my go-to “let’s get this party rocking” track. Same with Tone Loc and Michael Jackson – Eddie played on their songs that I spun at the clubs and then on the radio. Then came three decades on the air in Chicago, no lie every time I spun Van Halen the studio speakers were cranked all the way up! I have also been fortunate to see Van Halen many times in concert, even got to meet them once.
That photo was from 22 years ago during their first (and only) tour with Gary Cherone. At the time I worked for Chicago’s Rock 103.5 and it wasn’t long after this concert that they suddenly changed formats, so that photo represents so many fun memories. I distinctly recall crouching in front of the Van Halen brothers because I didn’t want to block their faces. When I think back I should have jumped behind them, they were definitely the most important part of that photo. I remember taking listeners backstage to meet the band and getting to walk ON their stage, right through Eddie Van Halen’s massive “guitar hut” before sitting in on their soundcheck (currently searching for pics). Those were the days before camera phones or you bet I would have snuck some video.
It’s a very sad day for rock & roll. It’s not just Jamie cryin’.