Eddie Van Halen didn't seem to take himself too seriously, as if his talent were as much of a surprise to him as anyone else.
Despite his image as a decadent rock star, the guitar virtuoso was dedicated to his playing. As a heavy-metal musician, he set a standard comparable to that of a classical pianist or violinist. His death Tuesday from cancer at age 65 was noted in a front-page New York Times obituary.
When I was trying to master acoustic guitar, Van Halen inspired me with a guitar magazine article on practicing. I made progress by following his advice to build technique one or two notes at a time.
I wasn't a big fan of his music, but admired his technique and guitar innovations. He was my unlikely model; I wanted to play like Eddie Van Halen.