This is a photo of me when I was 15 years old.
Yes I was a Van Halen fanatic.
Just to clarify, it was mid-1990’s. This kind of music was already out of fashion, let alone Red/White stripe outfit.
I had to post this photo. Because it was a proof I was in love with Van Halen. Just like a million, or a billion boys who heard “Eruption” since 1978, I wanted to be like Eddie Van Halen.
Everyone knew it was coming.
If you were an avid Van Halen fan and following the news and rumors on the internet, you knew it was coming.
But it was a shock for the whole music world.
I wish I had written this sooner.
Actually I did right away on our Japanese blog.
I was in shock just like everyone but I wrote my personal blog on our Japanese website.
But I could not write in in English until now.
Probably by now, more than a billion fans and guitar players in the world said their condolences, expressed their love and emotion for EVH and Van Halen. But still I have to write this.
Because it’s pretty obvious that Imari Tones’ music has so much to do with Van Halen.
It is obvious that I was influenced heavily by Eddie Van Halen.
I was a huge fan.
I always said as a guitarist I was just one of the billion Eddie Van Halen clones. (But I’d like to consider I’m one of the better clones.)
It was a shock. But I was not surprised.
It was a same kind of dream I had just before my own father passed away. It was a same kind of dream I had when my niece was born.
I cried so much when I had that dream.
After that, I knew it was not long.
I don’t mention the detail of the dream I had. But it was about Mr.Eddie Van Halen driving a car. I felt it was like “sometime before Christmas”.
I woke up. Played “1984” album and cried so hard.
However, instead of being sad, I put my everything into recording “Nabeshima” album. That would be our most important album. It has my best guitar playing.
Now I have to say my spiritual and musical condolences to people related, Van Halen family and especially to Mr.Wolfgang Van Halen.
But here I just write my own sentiment and personal stuff as a fan and as a musician.
This story, I don’t think I can tell you everything and I don’t think I can write in English. But I will try and tell you some things.
Everyone has his/her own love story.
I have my own love story about Van Halen.
But I think I’m a happy fan.
My life story with Van Halen actually became a full circle. It was a happy end.
When I was a teenager, I was always listening to 1989 Tokyo Dome bootleg whenever I felt depressed. (I love both Roth/Hagar. Let’s not talk which version is better. I also love Van Cherone, too.)
It meant so much to me. It was one of the few records that always made me happy.
Whenever listening to that Tokyo Dome bootleg, I wished I had been there. (Even though I was too young to actually be there.)
Van Halen had become inactive after 1999, but they reunited with David Lee Roth and came to Japan in 2013. And they played Tokyo Dome again.
This time I was there, of course.
It was a great concert and I can’t forget. Because it was such a spiritual experience for me. I was happy. But I was not completely happy. I felt as if Eddie Van Halen said to me “Hey, you have to move on. It’s time for you to graduate from Van Halen.”
And you know what, they released that Tokyo Dome concert as an official live album later in 2015.
It’s the first and only official live album for them with David Lee Roth.
That was, to me, the absolute best gift from Van Halen.
This time it’s official. And I can say “Yep I was there”.
(I was not a huge concert goer, because I have always been an indie musician busy making my own music. But in my life, I saw Van Halen 4 times. 1995 in Tokyo with Hagar. 1998 in Tokyo with Cherone. 2007 in Seattle with Roth. And 2013 in Tokyo with Roth. I could not see the original lineup but I was fortunate enough to see all 3 singers.)
On that day of Tokyo Dome concert, I had another very important musical event.
Previous month (May 2013), Hideki Yoshimura from Bloodthirsty Butchers had passed away. And they had this small memorial event for fans at a music venue located near Shimokitazawa.
I had to visit, because Bloodthirsty Butchers is/was my most favorite Japanese rock band ever.
I went there, I said my goodbye to Mr.Hideki Yoshimura, and headed for Tokyo Dome. It was such a mixed feeling. But it was a big musical, spiritual answer shown for me.
Hideki Yoshimura from Bloodthirsty Butchers. I loved his music. Possibly he might be bigger hero to me than Eddie Van Halen in some sense. (Mainly because he was a Japanese musician and he was more of an indie/alternative type of musician.)
So, since the day Hideki passed away, my time has stopped. My clock stopped clicking.
If you have lost someone you really loved. Or if you have lost something very important to you. You would know the feeling.
It’s very hard to live with your time stopped clicking.
I listened to new music. I tried to discover new favorite indie bands. But nothing was really new. So I cried, cried, and cried. (Instead I went back to discover older music.)
In that “Stopped Time”, I (we) made my own music. I made “Revive The World”, I made “Jesus Wind” and “Overture”. And now I made “Nabeshima”.
(It was fortunate for me that Eddie stayed alive until I finished making “Nabeshima”.)
But now I made “Nabeshima”, the most important musical piece of my life. The story of mine has become a full circle.
When I heard about Mr.Eddie Van Halen’s passing, I was shocked. But at the same time, I felt my time, my clock, has started to move again.
My time has started to tick again.
Time to move forward. Time to start walking again.
There is still some more work to be done.
I can’t say how great Eddie Van Halen is. Many people are talking and writing about his greatness for a billion times. But no one can really say how big impact Eddie had on music world and no one cay really say how big influence Eddie had on Rock’n’Roll.
It’s a so huge thing he had done for the music world and we can’t be thankful enough.
Van Halen was not my first band I listened to. I listened to other metal bands in 1990’s.
In those days we already had Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen and Paul Gilbert.
So Eddie Van Halen was not the fastest or hottest guitar player anymore.
However, I felt Eddie was far superior musically. Because his guitar playing was not just some fast notes. It was alive and it was emotion. His music had a message that was alive. It was all about his creativity.
It might be a same old story you have heard a million times but I was a bullied kid. I don’t know how many times I wanted to commit suicide in my early teenage days but when I listened to Eddie Van Halen’s guitar playing, it changed me. After that, I was able to express my own feelings. After that, my personality totally changed and I was able to live my own life. It was almost like “baptism of fire” to me, musically or even spiritually.
But I didn’t try to copy his music. I didn’t to try to sound like him.
Instead I tried to learn from his creativity. Because I knew I had to make my own music. Based on my own background and my own life experience.
I’m just a Japanese boy grew up in a local town in Japan. But what kind of music would Eddie make if he was in my position?
I tried to find my answer and this journey eventually led me to Christian faith and now I’m playing my Rock’n’Roll music for Jesus. You might think it’s funny but that is the result of finding my own answer for Rock’n’Roll. Finding my own creativity.
There was a time for Eddie Van Halen when his music went spiritual.
The singer was Gary Cherone. He is known as a “Christian Rocker” so this is not a coincidence for me.
I really loved “Van Halen 3” album. It changed my life.
To me it sounded like 21st century style indie rock by the biggest band in the world. It was not “arena rock” like 1980’s Van Halen. It was more personal and spiritual. It was deeper and it was cool.
Sure enough, the world didn’t like it so much. But I got the message.
After 1999, Van Halen went inactive. I was wanting to hear more. I wanted to hear more of this creative, spiritual, fresh and deep hard rock music with indie rock attitude.
But now that Van Halen was gone, I decided to make the music I want to hear on my own.
That is basically why I started making my own music and that is basically what I have been doing since.
Sorry, my English skill is not good enough and I could not really write what I’m feeling.
But genuinely I wanted to say THANK YOU VERY MUCH to Mr.Eddie Van Halen for his music and his creativity.
There is so much thing to say about my favorite music and my favorite bands. My love stories with my favorite bands.
Someday I want to tell you more about my favorite music I fell in love in the course of my journey.
But it’s all there in my music.
Probably I will do some cover songs.
But my biggest tribute to Mr.Eddie Van Halen is my own music.
Just like a billion bands in this world, there would not have been no Imari Tones if there was no Van Halen.