Inside a Superfan’s Secret Friendship With Eddie Van Halen

That’s the first thing I say to Eddie Van Halen, the legendary guitarist and co-namesake of the rock band Van Halen. Rather, that’s the first thing I say to someone who possibly is but probably isn’t Eddie Van Halen. I mean, who am I kidding? There’s no way the real Eddie Van Halen’s email address should be available for anyone to find in a public database — and it sure as shit shouldn’t be an America Online account.

In other words, this can’t be him, which is why the first email I send is something this stupid and slapdash. Those familiar with the history of Van Halen know Anthony — the band’s original bassist — was not so much fired from Van Halen as he was replaced in 2006 with Eddie’s son, Wolfgang, without anyone ever bothering to tell Anthony. At least that’s how Anthony’s told it. So, my opening line is the type of thing you might see a Van Halen traditionalist hold up on a giant sign at a concert just to troll Anthony’s replacement.

 

This isn’t just a fan talking. In a former life, I’d been a music journalist, including some time as an editor for Rolling Stone’s website. Back then, I got to interview everyone from Ozzy Osbourne to Diddy. But now it’s 2015, and I’m more than a decade removed from my dream job. Today, as a market researcher for a health-insurance company, I stare at data tables till my eyes water and monitor my employer’s social media mentions, featuring angry posts about how only “fraudelent fucks” and “#scumbags” would work there.

Sending emails like this has become something of a pastime, an exercise in nostalgia when the drudgery of my workday becomes too much to handle. Not long ago, I discovered that an old login I had to LexisNexis — a directory lawyers and journalists use that shows, among other things, a person’s criminal record, residences, phone numbers, and, yes, email addresses — had never been deactivated. After using it to look up a couple of exes, I’d turned to rock stars. On a lark, I’d reached out to who Nexis told me was Gene Simmons, Eddie Vedder, Stevie Nicks, and pretty much every member of the original Guns N’ Roses. But I’d gotten nary a response.

So, I fire off the Michael Anthony email at close to 5 o’clock on Sunday, May 31, 2015, and figure that’ll be the beginning and end of it. But 51 minutes later: “You’ve Got Mail!” That response kicks off a five–plus-year correspondence that would change my life.

I don’t actually see the email until Monday morning, when I get to work. My insides flutter just a bit.

“Not nearly as good as Wolfgang Van Halen, nor will he ever!! Who the fuck is this, you would know that if you had a brain and ears!!”

Whoever this is, they’re pretty protective of Wolfie. Here’s another thing: The time stamp on the email is 6:46 p.m. — or what time it would have been in California, where Eddie Van Halen is known to live, when it was sent. 

And this is a bit of a reach, but twice the writer uses double-exclamation points — the same way Van Halen does on the song “Everybody Wants Some!!” That’s always annoyed the shit out of me and, quite frankly, makes me enjoy the song less. Most normal people either use one or three exclamation points as a point of emphasis or volume. But two? I start thinking this person is either Eddie Van Halen or the world’s greatest Eddie Van Halen impersonator. 

 

There is one other thing I notice. Next to the email address is a name: Edward Van Halen. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You May Also Like