Eddie Van Halen Gave Me Permission To Do This
Most celebrity deaths don’t ever affect me or even bother me much. But every once in a while, one does. And Eddie Van Halen was one of those 'once in a while‘s.'
Van Halen was a big part of my life, and the main reason I got into the rock as I kid. When it comes to Van Halen, I have three distinct memories.
The first one was when I was a kid, and I bought the 1984 album. It was the first hard rock album I ever bought.
I was living on a farm in southwestern Minnesota. I had just recently got a stereo system for my birthday that had a record player, AM/FM radio, and a dual cassette player (that stereo is what led me to a career in radio).
I remember putting that album in, putting my headphones on, and listening to it over and over again. I was so obsessed that I would hit pause and play over and over, so I write down the lyrics of some of the songs.
My second significant memory is when I was in basic training for the US Army at Fort Benning, Georgia. One day, when they let us go to the PX, I saw the album OU812. I really wanted some music to listen to while I was in basic training, and I had liked the 5150, so I bought it. I listened to that album over and over again. It became one of my favorites of all time.
Undoubtedly, the best memory is when I worked at a Classic Rock station in Colorado from 2011-2016.
We needed to get the radio station vehicle wrapped. I had seen many of the typical wraps that other stations had done over the years, and I thought they were either ordinary or boring. I wanted to do something more unique.
I have been racking my brain for quite a while but wasn’t coming up with anything that stuck. Until all of a sudden, it hit like lightning.
The Frankenstrat! That legendary, iconic, Eddie Van Halen guitar.
Anyone who knows rock knows that guitar. So I showed our graphics guy some pictures of the guitar, and he put together a concept. When I got the design back, I was not disappointed -- it looked fantastic!
Frankenstrat Front View
There was one problem. Is there a chance we could get into trouble? Could there be a copyright infringement here? The last thing I wanted to do was have it wrapped and then find out later we had to re-wrap it.
So I thought, let’s ask Eddie Van Halen. It might be a longshot, but the worst they can say is no -- if there is even a response to the request at all.
So I wrote a nice email explaining how we were a pretty new radio station, and we wanted to let people know what kind of station we were. I said that the best way we could do that without even using words was Eddie’s famous Frankenstrat guitar -- a classic symbol of rock.
So while we waited for a response, a couple of the “higher-ups” were having second thoughts and didn’t think I should wrap it like that. They thought one of those typical, boring wraps you see on so many other radio station vehicles would be better.
I pushed back (as I tend to do when I think I’m right) and told them that not only will people love this, but it’ll be one of the coolest things ever to be put on a radio station vehicle. It will catch people's eye driving around the city, and they will know what kind of radio station we are, without seeing a single letter.
After a couple of weeks of passed, I started to think we would never hear back from Eddie Van Halen. I began to lose hope. After another week, we finally got a reply.
Eddie Van Halen had approved my request and thought it was a pretty awesome idea. So we excitedly wrapped our station vehicle in that legendary Frankenstrat guitar design. I ended being right. It did turn out to be one of the best vehicle wraps ever. We got compliments on it for years.
The radio station doesn't exist anymore, and the Frankenstrat truck no longer exists, but even today, when I show a picture of it to people, they think it’s pretty badass.
Final Front View
Final Rear View
Final Side View