April 3, 2019. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City is hosting a new exhibit. Dubbed “Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock & Roll”, the exhibit will explore one of the most influential artistic movements of the 20th century and the objects that made the music possible. Part of the exhibit will be Edward Van Halen’s touring rig from 1978. Practically all of this equipment (except for his “Frankenstein” guitar that he played in various forms until 1985) have not been seen publicly since photos of the band were taken during the recording of “Van Halen II.” In the photos shown here, it appears almost all of the gear Eddie used in that time frame are there, including Variacs, his pedalboard and two Marshall amps. Three sets of Marshall speaker cabinets and a replica of “Frankenstein” when it was painted black and white are also in the glass-enclosed display. The only items that seem to be missing are perhaps one or two pedals that may have been substituted on his pedalboard. The practice bomb that he used to house his echo units and pitch-shifting equipment (as used at the end of his classic solo “Eruption”) is present as are the two devices. While a copy of the original “Franky” is on display at The Smithsonian, the real guitar is on display in the Met Exhibit. This exhibit is a treat for Van Halen fans as no one even knew Eddie still had this equipment, except for his famous Marshall head and “Franky.” The exhibit also features guitars and instruments from Chuck Berry, Eric Clapton, Sheryl Crow, Bob Dylan, Don Felder, Kim Gordon, Jimi Hendrix, James Hetfield, Wanda Jackson, Joan Jett, Lady Gaga, Steve Miller, Joni Mitchell, Jimmy Page, Kate Pierson, Elvis Presley, Prince, Keith Richards, Patti Smith, Bruce Springsteen, Ringo Starr, Stevie Ray Vaughan, St. Vincent, Tina Weymouth, Nancy Wilson, and others. According to Max Hollein, Director of The Met. “Play It Loud celebrates a formative chapter in 20th-century art and culture, and the extraordinary objects featured in this presentation convey the innovation, experimentation, passion, and rebellion at the heart of rock and roll. The exhibition allows us to appreciate the artistry of the instruments as well as their powerful role in the creation and expression of rock’s legendary sound and identity.” The exhibit runs from April 8 – October 1, 2019 and you can bet this writer will be one of the many fans who will see this exhibit so check back for an update during the coming months.
Update 7/9/2019: This was such an amazing display to see. There is a three minute video that plays in rotation with stage rig setups from Van Halen, Jimmy Page, Keith Richards and Tom Morello. Watching the Van Halen video, it was a riveting experience. When they cut to Edward playing Eruption live from Live Without a Net, it was hard not to get emotional. If you are an Edward Van Halen fan, I highly recommend seeing this exhibit.
Check out more photos of this exhibit. (Click to view larger)
His practice bomb (replica) that he used to house his Univox EC-80 tape echo units.
Some of the Marshall amps Ed used, it is not clear if either of those shown were his famous main amp.
What’s your favorite Van Halen guitar or song?