After rock god Eddie Van Halen died of cancer Tuesday, Army Staff Sgt. Austin West processed the loss of one of his musical influences in the best way possible — by strapping on his guitar and absolutely shredding through a tribute on Facebook.
In a three-minute video posted to his personal Facebook page, the recruiter based in Watertown, New York, became a viral hit as he burned through some of Van Halen’s best-known riffs and solos, including “Eruption,” “Panama,” and the band’s cover of The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me.”
At publication time, the video had more than 1.2 million views and 7,000 comments.
“Believe it or not, it just came through, and I played what I felt through Eddie,” the 26-year-old musician told Stars and Stripes.
West, who previously served as a guitarist with the US Army Band, said he started learning the guitar after listening to AC/DC, and seeing Van Halen live in 2008 further inspired him to pursue music.
“Hitting one million [views] is so shocking,” he told Stars and Stripes. “I know Eddie is smiling.”
RIP to a legend and inspiration Mr. Edward Van Halen! Here is my tribute to you and may you Rest In Peace ! ??
Posted by Austin West on Tuesday, October 6, 2020
Ethan E. Rocke is a contributor and former senior editor for Coffee or Die Magazine, a New York Times bestselling author, and award-winning photographer and filmmaker. He is a veteran of the US Army and Marine Corps. His work has been published in Maxim Magazine, American Legion Magazine, and many others. He is co-author of The Last Punisher: A SEAL Team THREE Sniper’s True Account of the Battle of Ramadi.
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