Eddie Van Halen is undoubtedly one of the most accomplished guitar players in rock music history. In 1972, he co-founded Van Halen with his brother and appeared in the band as the primary songwriter and guitarist. He had played actively with the band since 1972 and produced several commercially successful albums.
Eddie inspired many musicians, collaborated with renowned artists, and popularized the two-hand tapping guitar solo technique. His collaborations featured Gene Simmons, Brian May, Sammy Hagar, Black Sabbath, Roger Waters, and many more.
On October 6, 2020, Eddie saddened the rock music scene with his tragic death after his battle with cancer, which lasted over four years. Following his death, Van Halen could not continue without him and disbanded. However, the fans and rock world still cherish and preserve Eddie’s legacy, and stories from his career influence the readers. Some of them are hard to believe though, like the one claiming Eddie never learned to read music.
Eddie Van Halen’s Piano Teacher Might Be The Reason He Could Not Read Music
When Eddie was still a child, he learned to play the piano starting at the age of six with his brother Alex. Eddie’s father was a jazz pianist and encouraged his sons to learn the piano. So, his interest in playing music started with a classical instrument rather than with drums or guitar.
In an interview by Rolling Stones, Eddie recalled those days. He said that his father found a Russian piano teacher to teach them how to play the piano. The teacher did not know English, and the language barrier between them might be why Eddie could not learn how to read music.
Moreover, Eddie claimed he fooled his teacher and everyone who listened to him for six years as he didn’t learn but just watched the teacher’s fingers before playing the piano. Eddie also revealed in the same interview that he never learned how to read music. He argued that his musical talent might be rooted in his gift for music and claimed he just had good ears back then.
In the interview with Rolling Stone, Eddie confirmed his musical talent is entirely natural:
“I think I have a gift. Things come easy, but then again, I’ve got to work at it, too. But at an early age, it was obvious that I had really good ears because I never learned how to read music.”
The interviewer asked him if he still hasn’t, and Eddie responded:
“No, and I fooled my teacher for six years. He never knew I couldn’t read. I’d watch his fingers, and I’d play it.”
Eddie won first place in a piano competition at Long Beach City College three years in a row, despite not reading music. Contrary to what his family expected, Eddie then shifted towards rock music and learned to play the electric guitar. Thanks to his growing interest in rock music back then, he became the iconic guitarist of Van Halen.