“Music Is Not The Olympics” – The Oral History of EVH

Imagine you were invited to hang out and interview an icon. This happened quite a few times for Brad Tolinski and Chris Gill. 

For over thirty years, the two journalists would make the drive through the winding roads of the Hollywood Hills to sit down with Eddie Van Halen and talk shop at his studio, 5150. Eruption: Conversations with Eddie Van Halen is the culmination of these conversations. The book provides the oral backstory of one of the most innovative, influential, and imitated musicians of our time. 

No stone is left unturned. You’ll read about the bond between brothers who immigrated to America with their parents, 50 bucks, and a piano. There are personal and professional stories from the studio, the road, and every place in between. Van Halen talks about the techniques many have copied, but never duplicated quite the same way. 

Eddie always flashed an impish smile, but he carried personal demons. Tolinski and Gill wanted to illuminate how these contradictory sides made the man. 

There are two cool sidebars in Eruption. In Eddie’s Oddities, they feature a guitar and discuss its origins and importance. He would spend much of his time tinkering and manipulating instruments to find the right sound. Musical Interludes are discussions with band members, family, friends, and music industry professionals. Steve Lukather, also known as Luke from Toto, shared the story about their friendship.

“We were meant to be pals. I think we spent other lifetimes together. I get that feeling with all of us guitar players who have known each other forever, the handful of us who came up together through the seventies, eighties, and nineties. Everybody knows everybody and there’s a certain respect that we have for each other regardless of what style we play.”

Steve “Luke” Lukather

The quote in Eruption that resonates with me comes from Eddie himself and is something that I’ve believed to be true for a very long time. He says, “Music is not the Olympics. It’s not a sport. It’s a form of expression. There is no such thing as bad music. There may be music that you personally don’t like, but if you don’t like it, don’t listen to it…Don’t listen to it and complain about it. There’s lots of music that I don’t care for, but you can’t say it’s bad. That’s subjective.” Amen!

Eruption is the closest you will get to hearing Eddie’s side of the story when it comes to his extraordinary life. It’s a comprehensive and compelling nonfiction narrative about the guitar virtuoso and visionary. Kudos to Tolinski and Gill for bringing this to fruition.

Eruption: Conversations with Eddie Van Halen by Brad Tolinski & Chris Gill is published by Hachette Books and dropped on October 5.