The fact that Van Halen is due to play a couple of Hollywood Bowl shows this weekend may come as something of a surprise, not so much for the fact that they are rock dinosaurs (they are far from the only old timers still bringing in the money) but because they have such tumultuous history.

David Lee Roth has been gone more than once and is back in the lineup right now, and there were the world-conquering yet creatively lean Sammy Hagar years. On top of that, this is a rock band whose most famous “riff” was played on a keyboard. That meant more songs like “When It’s Love.” The less said about that the better.

If that little tidbit stands out as odd when you think about it, bear in mind it’s not like Van Halen had any average guitarist either. The man on the axe just happens to be a technical whirlwind who, for better or worse, completely reinvented the notion of guitar playing, particularly when it comes to the solo. And when it comes to guitar solos, the man who once loaned his talents to Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” spent a couple of minutes on Van Halen’s debut album creating the greatest guitar solo of all time.

“Eruption” wasn’t a song with an amazing solo in the middle. The guitar solo was the song. Other than a few seconds of bass and drums, this is all Eddie’s show, and what a show it is. Is it a little cheesy? Maybe just a tiny bit, but that cheesiness is overpowered by two minutes of trailblazing finger-tapping wrapped in a melody that sounds like some neoclassical symphony played at impossible speed. Every solo ever is brought to its knees in the wake of this tiny piece of genius.

So take two minutes out of your day, forget Hagar and the aging group that hits town for a homecoming this weekend, and salute one of the most gloriously over-the-top and thrilling pieces of music ever put to tape.

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