Eddie Van Halen
For a generation of aspiring musicians and rock aficionados in the late 1970s and 1980s, Eddie Van Halen was the premier guitar hero of the day, one whose sonic palette covered everything from rock, R&B and dance to classically inspired pieces that redefined the use and sound of guitar in hard rock-n-roll. As leader and co-founder of Van Halen, he enjoyed considerable success for over three decades with such songs as "Jamie's Crying," "Dance the Night Away," "Jump" and "Best of Both Worlds," which were anchored by his fluid, supercharged guitar work and nimble manipulation of both frets and strings. Relations within the group were often as fiery as Van Halen's playing, with no less than three singers, including David Lee Roth, Sammy Hagar and Gary Cherone departing the group amidst heated in-fighting over the course of their history. Van Halen himself would suffer frequent health problems, including serious drug and alcohol addictions, during this period, but invariably rose again to re-establish himself as a guitar titan. His fabled marriage with television sweetheart Valerie Bertinelli kept his name in fan magazines apart from his music. Though Van Halen the band became a textbook example of dysfunctional band relations, Van Halen the guitarist remained untouched in regard to the innovation and inspiration he provided through his playing.