Los Angeles artist Robert Vargas unveiled a mural of the late Eddie Van Halen on the outside wall of the iconic Sunset Boulevard Guitar Center today, in honor of what would have been Van Halen’s 66th birthday. Vargas has said several times since announcing he’d been commissioned to paint the mural that Van Halen is his favorite rock band, and named it “Long Live the King” in celebration of Van Halen’s legacy.
Eddie Van Halen passed away on October 6, 2020, at the age of 65, after a long battle with stage four lung cancer and other complications. Countless fans, including many artists inspired by the band, expressed their sorrow and condolences. A lot of those artists paid tribute to him with covers of his songs, most popularly “Eruption.” Now, Vargas’ mural stands as another tribute to the legendary guitarist, celebrating his legacy in a prominent location.
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Van Halen and his brother/bandmate Alex were born in the Netherlands but moved to Pasadena (not far northeast of downtown Los Angeles) when they were young. They got their start as a band while in the area, just a few years after Guitar Center relocated their flagship store to Sunset Boulevard in 1971.
After the release of Van Halen’s self-titled debut in 1978, heavy with hits like “Running With the Devil,” “Eruption,” “You Really Got Me,” “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” and “Jamie’s Cryin’,” Eddie Van Halen soon became an iconic guitar player. With him were his brother Alex Van Halen on drums, Michael Anthony on bass and David Lee Roth on vocals. They kept the hits coming over the next decade, rising to become one of the most popular rock bands of all time.
They switched vocalists a couple times over the years since, from Roth to Sammy Hagar to Gary Cherone and back to Roth. In the 2000s, Eddie Van Halen’s son Wolfgang took over from Anthony on bass. The Van Halen brothers kept playing the whole while until Eddie’s passing.