Genius rarely follows a straight line. It certainly didn't in the case of Eddie Van Halen, the greatest guitarist of his generation and one of the handful of instrumentalists who shaped the sound of popular music in the 20th Century. Often, Van Halen's career seemed to resemble a supernova: a bright, blinding blast slowly decaying into aftershocks. Blame this on how his recording career with his namesake band was bookended by a flurry of activity and yawning years of quiet, a semi-retirement born of perfectionism, disinterest, and addiction. Those latter years stretched out for nearly the length of Van Halen's prime, amounting to two drifting decades filled with hiatuses, reunion tours, one strong album, and silence.
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