On October 6, 2020, news spread that Eddie Van Halen passed away from cancer at the age of 65. The music world was shocked and almost immediately, fans, musicians and publications around the world paid tribute to Van Halen, the iconic guitarist whose guitar playing changed the game forever. He still serves as an inspiration to many musicians, especially those right here on our Hollywood campus.

Since its founding as the Guitar Institute of Technology (GIT), MI has been a central part in the history of guitar players and rock music in Los Angeles (and beyond). In 1982, Van Halen was one of ten guitar players and educators to contribute to “Ten”, MI’s landmark instructional book on guitar artistry, which also included greats like Larry Carlton, Tommy Tedesco, Les Wise, Joe Diorio and more.

Pat Hicks, Eddie Van Halen, Don Mock, Howard Roberts

Eddie Van Halen, Don Mock, Les Wise

In those early years of MI, the young guitarist paid at least two visits to the MI campus. We searched through our archives and found these amazing photos of Van Halen playing on Concert Hall stage (peek our old MI logo!)

Current MI guitar instructor, Dave Hill, was a student at GIT when Van Halen played that special show and he shares his memorable story below:

“I was used to seeing a lot of great seminars and concerts during my year at GIT (March 1982 to March 1983). That was one of the reasons I was so excited to study at the legendary school in Hollywood…I think the one [concert] that was the most unexpected and exciting was Allan Holdsworth. He was going to be playing with bass teacher, Jeff Berlin, and a drummer I’d not heard of, Gary Husband.


Eddie Van Halen, Jeff Berlin

Allan started the show playing a few of his tunes as a trio with just himself , bass and drums. He was amazing and his music was otherworldly…But then, he brought out Eddie (Van Halen) from the side to sit in. Everyone in the room went nuts, yelling and screaming.

The funny thing I remember about Eddie sitting in was the quiet “non metal” and puny little Roland Cube amp he plugged into. I thought, “how was he gonna rock with that tiny little amp?” And that question was quickly answered!


Eddie just hit the first chord and blasted through the band with dive bombs, pick squeals and harmonics and everyone was just grinning from ear to ear. It could have been a Modded Marshall as far as I could hear. It was all in his fingers…His time was great, he knew when to play and how to leave space…The thing that I also loved was how fun he made it look. He seemed to know he was a little out of his stylistic zone, but he looked like he was having more fun than anyone on stage that day. He closed off the end of the concert with an off the cuff solo version of “Spanish Fly” and everyone left the concert buzzing.


Being part of that moment when I was a student at MI was something I’ll never forget. I don’t know if Allan and Eddie ever jammed together again after that day. I was just happy to see it happen when I was there. Rest In Peace and keep rocking, Eddie Van Halen.”


Allan Holdsworth, Gary Husband, Eddie Van Halen, Jeff Berlin

Photo credits: MI Library