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City Council Zeroes In On Eddie Van Halen Memorial

Legendary guitarist could be honored with street name near the former Raymond Theater or art placed at Civic Auditorium and Convention Center

Published on Monday, October 26, 2020 | 4:13 am
 
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)

City officials are recommending the City Council explore ways to honor Eddie Van Halen, but, according to a staff report, using an alley or street near the iconic guitarist’s boyhood home is not the best way to go.

Instead, the city’s Civic Auditorium and Convention Center could be the site of a memorial, according to a staff report.

“An early suggestion received by staff was the renaming of the alley near the Van Halen home. Although the idea is reasonable, the street renaming process is not conducive to a predominately residential area should it become a destination for fans and visitors,” according to a city staff report.

Van Halen, who moved to Pasadena with his family from the Netherlands in the 1960s, died earlier this month at age 65 following a battle with throat cancer.

Immediately after his death, the city began trending on social media after local leaders expressed their condolences to his family.

Eddie and his brother Alex attended Hamilton Elementary School and Pasadena High School. Despite the anti-immigrant racism they faced, they gained popularity through their music after they formed bands and started playing at local parties.

But it was at Pasadena City College that the formation of what would later become the historic group Van Halen occurred when Eddie and Alex met David Lee Roth.

The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.

Under the city’s monument policy, the placement of public monuments falls under the jurisdiction of the city manager.

The first step in the process is a determination as to whether the proposed monument has citywide or a less than citywide significance, and if the project would have ongoing maintenance costs. It would have to be determined if a monument would create additional liability or safety issues.

All monuments, whether or not they have citywide significance, must also meet criteria for appropriateness, compatibility with the surrounding environment, and possible impacts on existing uses.

The agenda report listed Electric Drive, which abuts the rear of the former Raymond Theater, at Raymond Avenue and Holly Street in Old Pasadena, as a potential location.

Roth’s father once owned the renowned theater, which was a frequent location for Van Halen rehearsals.

Electric Drive was named in 1907 for the Pacific Electric Railway Company, a privately owned mass transit system. Pacific Alley intersects Electric Drive to the north forming an L-shaped alleyway segment.

A plaque could be placed at the house or at Pasadena City College.

According to the staff report, a preferred location for such a monument might be at the Pasadena Convention Center and Civic Auditorium, a location where the band played several of its earliest performances.

Coincidentally, the Pasadena Center Operating Co. (PCOC) has been approached by an individual interested in hosting a virtual benefit concert with proceeds raised funding the construction of a statue or monument in the musician’s honor.

The PCOC staff is also open to placing a plaque or statue, or renaming a walkway in between the Civic Auditorium and Exhibit Hall so that there is a public place for people to visit to celebrate the life and legacy of Van Halen.

“Recognizing Van Halen the band and/or individual members should be considered,” according to the staff report. “With his passing, Eddie Van Halen’s international recognition as a musical artist is noted for the significant impact he had on the Rock & Roll genre and his legacy is a source of hometown pride for the city.”

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