Memorials grow in Eddie Van Halen's adopted hometown
PASADENA, California (AP) - Eddie Van Halen's childhood home and a sidewalk in front of a nearby liquor store became memorials to the legendary rock guitarist in his adopted home near Los Angeles.
The shrines appeared soon after Van Halen died of cancer at the age of 65 earlier this week. The honors have continued to grow and attract a steady stream of visitors day and night.
Van Halen was born in the Netherlands and moved to Pasadena, California with his parents and older brother Alex at the age of 7.
A few dozen people walked through the nondescript yellow house on Las Lunas Street on Friday, exchanging memories and taking photos of flowers and old photos of the guitar virtuoso.
"That way, people have a chance to come out and share their feelings," said Jackie Gibson, whose younger brother was friends with the Van Halens. “We need that now. We really didn't have a chance to celebrate when everything closed. It is a time when people can come together and heal. "
A pickup truck stopped outside the house and its overgrown yard and turned on Van Halen's music, appropriately shaking the silence on the otherwise neatly manicured block. In the fenced-in back yard there is still a shed where the brothers practiced. They lived in the house, which is now rented, for a few more years after their debut album of the same name came out in 1978.
"It's heartbreaking because he's such a part of our lives," said Paige Uranga, a 53-year-old fan from the nearby Alhambra. "It's a soft, deep pain compared to all the other really sharp knife-like pain that we experience."
A few blocks away, Salvadore Franco was forced to stop outside the liquor store and look at the display of a guitar, photos, candles, beer cans, and a pack of cigarettes. Local legend has it that Eddie and Alex wrote the family name in wet cement on the curb, which is still visible.
In 1968, Franco and the Van Halens delivered the Pasadena Star News on different routes. He remembered Eddie throwing papers off his Stingray bike with banana-shaped handlebars.
"He worked hard because he had to buy his drums," said Franco. "He always smiled, I remember that. Friendly, sociable, he went by and said," How are you? "
Franco said in a Van Halen T-shirt that he went with the brothers to Pasadena High and what was then Pasadena Community College. He attended some of their earliest performances in local backyards and the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.
The Van Halens formed their first band, The Broken Combs, at Hamilton Elementary and played at lunchtime. Eddie remembered his early days there as "utterly scary".
"Because we couldn't speak the language, we were considered a minority," Van Halen said in a 2017 interview at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. “My first friends in America were black. The whites who were the bullies would tear up my homework papers. The black children stood up for me. "
Gibson said her younger brother Jack had his own band around the same time the Van Halens were in a band called Mammoth. Jack asked her to play at his garden party.
"It was two dollars a keg for Van Halen," she said with a laugh. "There were over a thousand people there."
Gibson said police used helicopters to drive partygoers out of the yard and down the street to disperse.
The news of Eddie's death brought her memories back.
“He seemed like a very humble, down to earth guy, not arrogant, like fame really didn't get to him,” said Gibson, whose family is also Dutch. “He still had the feeling in his soul that he was down to earth. The Dutch are like that. "
The first rock album Uranga bought was Van Halen II in 1979 and she quickly memorized all the words.
"It just hurts when you're left here and all of your idols are gone, all of your heroes," she said. "He was a hero."
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