The National GUITAR Museum said in a statement: “It is perhaps fitting that we don’t need to explain why Eddie is deserving of such an honour, everyone who has ever heard his guitar playing knows. Eddie certainly would have received this award at some point in the future, as it seemed that he still had a lifetime of guitar greatness to give.
“Several of the people we’ve honoured over the past decade have left us in the years since we presented them with the award. In this case, however, the sadness of Eddie Van Halen’s passing is somehow harder to accept.
“Thanks, Eddie. We only wish we could deliver this in person.”
Previous recipients include Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi and the late B.B. King and Glen Campbell.
Meanwhile, Slash recently hailed Halen for his “pure musical talent”.
The Guns N’ Roses guitarist heaped praise on the rock legend for his “phenomenal” technical ability and insisted there aren’t many other “rock’n’rollers” who have that level of nuance in their playing.
He said: “Any instrument he had chosen to play would have been phenomenal, because he just had that pure musical talent. And he chose guitar, because that’s what turned him on.
“And for somebody with that kind of musical talent to get turned on to rock‘n’roll guitar was sort of unique unto itself, because most of us guitar players are a ragged bunch of rock‘n’rollers who don’t have too much technical ability or schooling. We just sort of go for this raw thing. And he had that, but he also had this musical, sort of classical gift.”
Slash added: “So he was just an amazing artist, period.”
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