A little over a year after the death of guitar rock legend Eddie Van Halen, a plaque with his name is about to be installed on the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. The mayor and city council members (one of which is planning to wear a Van Halen T-shirt he’s treasured for decades) will unveil the plaque at a press event on Monday. Scheduling conflicts will prevent Van Halen’s family from attending, though they did approved the language on the marker.
The Van Halen family left Holland in 1962 and arrived on Las Lunas Street in East Pasadena with about $15 and two tiny musical geniuses in tow. Eddie and brother Alex started their first band in elementary school and played around the city together. They added Pasadena City College classmate David Lee Roth in 1972.
Fans from around the world called on the city to honor their hometown hero with a memorial, and ideas from a statue to street renaming came and went. Neighbors near Electric Drive, an alley behind the Raymond theater, nixed the new name, and the city was not too keen on the idea of a sculpture. “We pride ourselves on our art and culture,” said City spokesperson Lisa Derderian. “There’s a process and we have to be cognizant of what our community wants.” Derderian pointed out plaques honoring Barack Obama, Thurgood Marshall and oversized busts of baseball stars Mack and Jackie Robinson at City Hall.
“City staff engaged with representatives of the family and came to an agreement to install a plaque at the Civic Auditorium,” reads a city announcement. “A site where the band played 14 performances in the early days of their career.” The cost of the tribute will be paid for by Pasadena 4 Van Halen, Pasadena residents who raised almost $7,000 from other fans online. The group is also working with Pasadena High School to create a mural of Eddie and Alex Van Halen somewhere on the campus.
The city is also exploring the option of naming a new park at Union and El Molino streets after the late musician. It will most definitely not include a statue.
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