Enlarge Van Halen at Madison Square Garden, 2012. Photo credit: Jacqueline Cheng for MetalSucks.

Pasadena’s Eddie Van Halen Tribute Plaque Can’t Include Eddie Van Halen

  • Axl Rosenberg

We have good news and bizarre news.

The good news is that Eddie Van Halen’s hometown of Pasadena, CA is apparently moving forward with a substantial tribute to the late guitarist. The idea was first floated in October, just weeks after Van Halen passed away from cancer at the age of 65. Although previous reports indicated that the tribute could be a street naming or some sort of monument, it seems that it will now be a plaque.

Pasadena Now reports that the plaque will be designed by Randa Schmalfeld and Julie Kimura, who were invited to meet with a Pasadena Center Operating Co. official after launching a successful crowdfunding campaign to support the project (they’ve raised roughly $6,500 to date). The plaque, once it’s approved and produced, “would be installed near the city Convention Center, which is next to the Civic Auditorium, where the band played a dozen times between 1975 and 1978.”

Okay. So far so good.

Now here comes the bizarre news: as a result of unspecified “legal issues,” Schmalfeld and Kimura can’t include Eddie’s likeness or his iconic “Frankenstrat” guitar in the design (which I would assume also means they can’t use the instantly recognizable pattern on that guitar).

So. Hm. I sure would like to know what those legal issues are. I assume — and this is COMPLETE CONJECTURE on my part, so please take it with a grain of salt — that one of two things are happening here:

  1. For some reason, the Van Halen estate does not actually want Eddie Van Halen associated with Pasadena.
  2. The Van Halen estate will not let the city of Pasadena use any copyrighted images without paying for them, and the cost is too much for the city, even with all the money raised.

I don’t think the first option is all that likely. But who knows, maybe Van Halen was fighting with local officials at the time of his death and so now his family is just like “Get fucked.”

Assuming it’s the second option, then…

Van Halen’s likeness, as well as the instantly recognizable pattern that the guitarist created, have to be protected by his estate. Of course they do! And maybe giving Pasadena sets a bad legal precedent or something. But, uh… like… there’s gotta be a workaround here, right? Or does the Van Halen estate want money because they think a proper monument will drive tourism to Pasadena? But really, how much tourism could such a monument bring in?

I have no answers. Only questions.

You can read Pasadena Now‘s full report here.

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