Latest Guides

Community News

City Moving Forward with Plans For Van Halen Plaque Near Convention Center

Gofundme organizers offer a donation for memorial honoring legendary guitarist who grew up in Pasadena

Published on Wednesday, April 21, 2021 | 3:03 pm
 
Eddie Van Halen (R) and David Lee Roth of Van Halen perform onstage at Jones Beach Theater on August 14, 2015 in Wantagh, New York. (Photo by Debby Wong. Shutterstock)

The city appears to be getting closer to honoring legendary guitarist and former Pasadena resident Eddie Van Halen, who founded the group Van Halen with his brother Alex.

Earlier this week, organizers who have been pushing for a memorial said on their gofundme page that they had met with a city official and an official with the Pasadena Center Operating Co.

Randa Schmalfeld and Julie Kimura said as a result of the meeting they were invited to design a plaque honoring Van Halen, who died on Oct. 6 at age 65 after a long battle with cancer.

The plaque 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.

According to the gofundme page established by Schmalfeld and Kimura, $6,500 has been donated by fans from around the world.

The shows that Van Halen played at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium brought the band widespread recognition and a fan base that helped to launch them into international stardom.

“Van Halen’s epic rise from local garage band to hometown heroes to international superstars is nothing short of incredible,” said Schmalfeld. “We are so delighted that Van Halen will be recognized with a plaque celebrating the band’s Pasadena roots, and the important role that the Pasadena Civic Auditorium played in the band’s early success. We are delighted to make this significant donation in celebration of Edward Van Halen’s extraordinary talent and in honor of Van Halen’s Pasadena roots”

According to Pasadena Public Information Officer Lisa Derderian, “The City is moving forward with a plaque in front of or adjacent to the Convention Center where the band performed on several occasions in their earlier years.”

Derderian said there is no time frame on when the memorial will be installed.

The plaque has not yet been created. First, the Pasadena Center Operating Co. will have to approve the donation. The next step is ordering a plaque, which will be delivered a few weeks later.

Due to legal issues, the pair have been told that the plaque cannot contain Van Halen’s likeness or even his famous “Frankenstrat” guitar.

Almost immediately after his death, the city began trending on social media. City leaders expressed their condolences to his family.

Fans began leaving flowers at Van Halen’s boyhood home on Allen Avenue and called for the placement of a memorial.

City officials discussed several options for a memorial soon after he died, including renaming Electric Alley behind the former Raymond Theater in honor of Van Halen or the group. Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth’s father at one point owned the theater where the group practiced.

The Van Halen family moved to Pasadena in 1962, and Alex and Eddie attended local schools where they were bullied because they were mixed race and spoke little English.

In a 2017 interview with Smithsonian Magazine, Eddie Van Halen remembered his first friends in America were Black and protected him from local bullies.

Despite those incidents, Van Halen said he was grateful for his experience as an immigrant.

“Coming here with approximately $50 and a piano, not being able to speak the language, going through everything to get to where we are, if that’s not the American dream, I don’t know what is,” he said in the interview.

Van Halen’s epic rise from local garage band to hometown heroes to international superstars is nothing short of incredible,” said Schmalfeld. “We are so delighted that Van Halen will be recognized with a plaque celebrating the band’s Pasadena roots, and the important role that the Pasadena Civic Auditorium played in the band’s early success.

Get our daily Pasadena newspaper in your email box. Free.

Get all the latest Pasadena news, more than 10 fresh stories daily, 7 days a week at 7 a.m.

Make a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

3 thoughts on “City Moving Forward with Plans For Van Halen Plaque Near Convention Center

  • It’s a shame they can’t put up a statue of him , similar to the Chris Cornel in Seattle. It is also a shame that the author of this article Coleman, had to bring up “immigrant bullying” to further a false narrative about California in the late 60’s. I grew up there and it was not like this author portrays, at all. Very sad , he’s obviously pushing a false narrative about how immigrants were treated badly in Southern Califiornia.