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Van Halen was a big part of the soundtrack to my college years.

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Eddie and I shared a birthday.

Mine, too.

Although Van Halen is known for bombastic rock, I just love the guitar picking in this one, "Finish What Ya Started":

I was never a big fan. But damn, what a musician!

Van Halen wasn't a favorite, nor was Eddie specifically as a guitarist, but there's no questioning the impact and influence that both he and the band had on modern rock music. 

What Randy said.

I was surprised to find out he was older than me. That baby face fooled me for a long time.

"How old was he?"

That's the question I remember hearing my mother ask every time she received news of the death of a friend or acquaintance. Once she got the answer she'd invariably say. "That's young!" These days I find myself asking the same question with increasing frequency. I think those of us who ask that question are all gauging how much time we have left in comparison to someone else. What didn't sound young to me then sounds very young to me now.

I gotta admit, this was a tough one. He was my first rock idol. One of the few musicians I had hanging on my wall growing up. Eddie and the rest of the band always looked like they were having so much fun. Obviously, it wasn't just me. As one guy on the radio said, "Eddie Van Halen was elected student body president of a lot of schools."

"Eruption" was so singular and surely influenced a whole generation of guitarists. While he could write great riffs, he was also great as a rhythmic guitarist. The band also brought a hard rock sound to pop music.

Even as he got older and was sporting the grey hair and goatee, he still looked cool. It sucks

From NBC News: "Eddie Van Halen Endured a 'Horrifying Racist Environment' Before Becoming a Rock Legend"

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