Famous Synesthetes

Eddie Van Halen

Eddie Van Halen

Eddie Van Halen © Jon Stich 2012

Eddie Van Halen was born in 1957 in Nijmegen, Holland and moved with his family to California in the 1960’s. His father was a classically trained musician and an accomplished jazz player. The two Van Halen brothers began playing music early, but Eddie originally played drums and his brother, Alex, played guitar. The two eventually traded instruments. Eddie and his brother Alex played in various bands around Pasadena, CA before starting the band Mammoth in 1973 with David Lee Roth. In 1975 the band changed its name to Van Halen. Known for his virtuoso guitar playing, Van Halen’s accomplishments include the Van Halen albums Van Halen (1978), which sold more than 6 million copies, Diver Down (1982), and 1984 (1984). He was invited to play on Michael Jackson’s Beat It, and the group Van Halen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. Van Halen's sound-color synesthesia is rumored to be the source of the band's legendary "brown sound," said to be a reference to how Van Halen experiences his music.



Cytowic, R. & Eagleman, D.M. (2009). Wednesday is indigo blue : Discovering the brain of synesthesia. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Encyclopedia Brittanica. (2012). Van Halen. In Encyclopedia Britannica. Chicago, IL: Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Hardy P., and Laing, D. (2000). Van Halen. In The Faber Companion to 20th Century Popular Music (Revised ed.). New York, NY: Da Capo.