Alexander Arthur Van Halen (born May 8, 1953), was the drummer and co-founder of the hard rock band Van Halen. Initially, his brother Eddie, Edward Lodewijk Van Halen (born January 26, 1955) played drums, while Alex practiced guitar. Eddie went on to passionately pursue playing the guitar, which he made himself, as he wasn’t satisfied with guitars that were available “off the shelf”.

He originally played a ’58 Fender Stratocaster but wanted a heavier piece of wood for the body of the guitar. So, he bought a Strat-shaped body for $50 and a neck for $80. The Strat-shaped body came pre-routed for three single-coil pickups, so Eddie took up his chisel and soldering iron to install the humbucking pickup, which he had potted himself to reduce feedback by dipping it into a coffee can full of paraffin wax. Also, to his preference, he removed the varnish from the neck, which was wider and thinner, and re-fretted it with larger fret wire and Crazy Glue.

He then sprayed it with black and white acrylic-lacquer Schwinn bicycle paint. He cut out and mounted his own homemade black pickguard, covering the neck and middle pickup routings, and installed a single master volume knob (although the knob itself, famously, was a “Tone” knob), brass nut and the tailpiece from the ’58 Stratocaster.

In 1972, while attending Pasadena City College, Eddie and his brother Alex formed a band, originally called “Genesis”. The name was changed to “Mammoth” when Van Halen became aware of the English progressive rock band of the same name. Mammoth consisted of Eddie Van Halen on guitar and lead vocals, his brother Alex on drums and bass guitarist Mark Stone. Mammoth had no P.A. system of their own, so they rented one from David Lee Roth, a service for which he charged by the night. David Lee Roth at the time was singing lead vocals in another band. Van Halen became frustrated with singing his own lead vocals, and decided they could save money by adding David Lee Roth to the band so they wouldn’t have to pay him for the use of his sound system.

In 1974, the Van Halen brothers, David Lee Roth, and Michael Anthony formed a band, simply called Van Halen. David Lee Roth, according to Wikipedia, told the Van Halen brothers that the band name should be Van Halen just because it sounded cooler than anything else he could think of. Van Halen was signed to Warner Brothers in 1977 and released their debut album in 1978. Their 1978 self-titled debut album Van Halen was released to much fanfare, influencing many musicians in hard rock. The two brothers are the only members of Van Halen who have been in the band for its entire duration.

In 2012 Eddie Van Halen was named top guitarist in the world. Alex became an ordained minister and performed the ceremony for his brother’s wedding in 2009.

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