When I was 12, the older brother of a friend of mine turned me on to Van Halen. It was 1979, and the album Van Halen II was climbing the charts. VH hadn’t quite made it to arena rock status, but they were well on their way. It was an amazing piece of work, especially considering Edward’s unprecedented skill on his instrument: an old Charvel Stratocaster-style electric guitar.
Originally, Eddie, ever the experimenter with sounds, set-ups and configurations, painted the guitar black, then added his trademark tape stripes and painted it white. This simple act began a journey that would last the breadth of his career, as the guitar went through a number of different paint jobs, neck and pick-up changes, and eventually several replicas, one of which was made available to the public for purchase. Because there were so many changes, so many various pieces involved, over the years, it became affectionately known as the Frankenstrat (officially known as the Van Halen Frankenstein).
Here’s a video explaining the guitar’s evolution:
As a kid, I was floored by Van Halen. As their catalog broadened, through the wonderfully heavy Women and Children First and then their finest moment, Fair Warning, I was sucked in. I saw them live on both the Diver Down and 1984 tours. (I had a free ticket to the 1981 Fair Warning show, when they opened for the Rolling Stones at the Tangerine Bowl in Orlando, but my folks weren’t quite ready to allow me to attend concerts just yet. The show was immortalized on the back cover of Diver Down.)
I was obsessed with the music and the aesthetic. I would plaster the winged logo all over my walls. I’d custom stripe my notebooks to look like Ed’s guitar. By the time I was old enough to drive, I had named my car the Van Halen Cruiser and outfitted it with a custom Van Halen license plate.
Granted, Eddie has since lost his mind, and the revolving lineup of clowns – including Eddie’s son, Wolfgang – has turned Van Halen into a bit of a joke. But in their hey-day, they were a force to be reckoned with, a band that has, in many ways, never been touched.
If you’re one of those parents who love nostalgia about your favorite bands, you have probably already burdened your children with stories of your first concert (for me, 1982, The Who, followed, of course, by Van Halen that same year), your first album (for me, 1971 Jackson 5’s Greatest Hits), your first time in the pit (for me, Corrosion of Conformity, 1985). But those are only stories.
I love to share tangibles from my childhood with my kid, too. Vinyl records, pictures and magazines, and instruments as well. But rather than drop a couple-K on a replica Frankenstrat replica, I think a wiser purchase at this time might be this striped pillow.
Printed both front and back with the trademarked black-and-white stripe pattern, the pillow harkens to the days of Eddie’s custom stage outfits …
How cool is it to know that your kid could be sleeping on a pillow that resembles Edward Van’s custom overalls?
OK, that’s a little weird.
Pick up the striped VH pillow at Society 6.