One year after the legendary guitarist’s death, the city of Pasadena unveiled a plaque this week in honor of Eddie Van Halen at the Civic Auditorium, where the then-fledgling musician and his band performed more than a dozen shows before becoming global icons.
The plaque was unveiled in a private ceremony attended by city officials and one of the organizers of a fundraising effort to commemorate the guitarist and the band Van Halen. City spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said Eddie Van Halen’s relatives weren’t able to attend, but they endorsed its installation.
Eddie Van Halen, who died from cancer Oct. 6, 2020, at age 65, attended school in Pasadena with his drums-playing older brother, Alex. It was at Pasadena City College that the beginnings of the band that would be known as Van Halen can be traced. The group played backyard parties in the area for hard rock-loving teens in the early 1970s before climbing to international fame.
The Van Halen family emigrated from the Netherlands to Pasadena in 1962 and settled in a house on Las Lunas Street. The two Van Halen children, Eddie and Alex, attended Hamilton Elementary School where they performed for the first time in a student band called the Broken Combs—and held down a paper route for the Pasadena Star-News.
By the early 1970s, the Van Halen boys attended Pasadena City College where, in a scoring and arranging class, they met future Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth. Together, with Arcadia resident Michael Anthony, they formed the group Van Halen and began playing local venues from outdoor parties to the Civic Auditorium.
By the 1980s, Van Halen was regarded as one of the best-selling rock acts of all time.
Eddie Van Halen led the band through five decades and three lead singers, and was considered a virtuoso for his two-handed tapping technique. Along with appearing on over a dozen albums with the band, Eddie played the blazing guitar break on Michael Jackson’s megahit “Beat It.”
Given the band’s connection to Pasadena and the hometown pride expressed by its residents, several residents asked that the city name a street, alley or other monument in Eddie’s honor following his death last year. A strip of curb on North Allen Avenue, near the former Van Halen home on Las Lunas Street, served as a makeshift memorial site after his death, prompting a broader discussion of a local memorial in a non-residential area, according to the city.
Derderian said earlier that many local residents have fond memories of the Van Halen brothers playing at house parties and performing in small clubs throughout the San Gabriel Valley. Van Halen signed with Warner Bros. Records in 1977 after the company’s president attended one of their gigs.