(Editor’s note: The death of Eddie Van Halen from cancer has rocked his fans and the rock world. In honor of the legend, we are reposting this story from June 7, 2018)
By Sophia Whittemore
AsAmNews Staff Writer
The Van Halens. You might know them as being the fathers of classic rock, with all the glamor of guitar solos and flowing hair. You’ve probably heard their heart-pumping song “Jump” or listened to “Runnin’ With the Devil” if you’ve ever scanned through an oldie rock station.
But did you know that Alex and Eddie Van Halen, the gods of rock, were part Indonesian?
Their musician father, Jan, met their Dutch-Indonesian mother, Eugenia, in Rangkasbitung. In the video clip above, the Van Halen sons discuss how their mother managed to find office work in colonial Indonesia, despite the horrors of the caste system. From there, Jan and Eugenia married and started a family in the Netherlands.
For Dutch-Indonesians who left Indonesia, it was a difficult to feel accepted in the Netherlands; their neighbors often treated them as if they weren’t “Dutch enough.” From Amsterdam, the family moved to Pasadena, California in the 1960s.
A Rolling Stone interview with Eddie Van Halen goes into further detail about the Van Halens’ childhood. The interview discusses how, though their father was more musically inclined, their mother was the “whip” of the house when it came to practicing music. Eugenia urged the boys into classical music training. Though Alex couldn’t read sheet music, he made up for it by having “really good ears” and won piano competitions with his brother . Wherever their band was, or whenever they had to gather for a practice or performance, they always had to clock in with Eugenia, who watched over them every step of the way.
Alex and Eddie gave up piano when the Beatles did. Alex took up a drum kit. Eddie borrowed Alex’s guitar. Later, they even started a band — and ultimately, made rock-n-roll history.
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