A Fort Drum soldier is going viral with a guitar tribute to late rock legend Eddie Van Halen.
CNYCentral reports Staff Sergeant Austin West, also known as “The Guitar Soldier,” shared a video of himself playing guitar in the style of the Van Halen guitarist last month, after the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer died last month.
“RIP to a legend and inspiration Mr. Edward Van Halen! Here is my tribute to you and may you Rest In Peace !” West wrote on Facebook.
The video has been shared with Van Halen fans around the world, racking up more than 2.3 million views over four weeks.
CNYCentral reports Sgt. West is a recruiter stationed in the U.S. Army recruiting station in Watertown. He’s expected to ship out soon as a guitarist with the U.S. Army Band.
Van Halen died Oct. 6 after a long battle with throat cancer at St. Johns Hospital in Santa Monica. His wife, Janie was reportedly by his side, along with his son Wolfgang and brother Alex.
Eddie and Alex Van Halen, born in the Netherlands, formed the rock band in California in the 1970s with singer David Lee Roth and bassist Michael Anthony, who replaced Mark Stone. Alex played drums and Eddie’s son, Wolfgang, became the band’s bass player in 2006.
The group dominated much of the ’80s with hits like “Runnin’ with the Devil,” “Dance the Night Away,” “Hot for Teacher,” “Panama” and “Jump.” The group, which later featured Sammy Hagar on vocals, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.
Eddie Van Halen is widely regarded as one of the greatest guitarists of all time, and was ranked No. 1 in a Guitar Magazine reader’s poll of “The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.” In addition to his work with Van Halen, his notable credits include playing the guitar solo on Michael Jackson’s 1982 hit “Beat It.”
“He was the best father I could ever ask for. Every moment I’ve shared with him on and off stage was a gift,” Wolf Van Halen wrote. “My heart is broken and I don’t think I’ll ever fully recover from this loss. I love you so much, Pop.”
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