Guitar legend Eddie Van Halen at the National Museum of American History
Guitar legend Eddie Van Halen spoke at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and Zócalo Public Square Feb. 12, 2015, about innovation as part of the national “What It Means to Be American” program. The Dutch immigrant and naturalized U.S. citizen discussed his American journey, his role in creating one of the biggest American rock bands of all time, how he has reinvented the way the guitar is played and designed, and he will answer the question, “Is rock ’n’' roll about reinvention?” Entertainment journalist Denise Quan moderated the sold-out event.
Best known as the lead guitarist and co-founder of Van Halen, Eddie Van Halen is recognized for his innovative performance and recording styles, two-hand tapping, scorching solos and energetic concerts. Van Halen has invented guitar technology, technique and instruments that have redefined how the guitar is played and heard.
At the even, Van Halen and Fender donated a master-built replica of Van Halen’s infamous white-with-black-stripe Stratocaster. This is the guitar that changed the guitar world in 1978 when Van Halen cross-pollinated Gibson electronics with Fender body and neck designs. To represent the path of progressions in his instrument designs, a Stealth-finished EVH Brand Wolfgang was also included to represent his modern-day workhorse.
In addition to the guitars, Van Halen and Fender Musical Instruments Corp. also donated an EVH Brand 5150-III amplifier and speaker cabinet to embody the journey and progression of his amplifier designs from the early ’70s through the modern day.
The National Museum of American History and Los Angeles-based Ideas Exchange Zócalo Public Square have partnered to present “What It Means to Be American,” a collaborative three-year initiative aimed at engaging leading thinkers, public figures and Americans from all walks of life to explore how the United States became the nation it is today.