The Comfort of Posthumous Adoration

Why the biggest popularity boost is death, and what that says about us and the artists we admire

Mookie Spitz
2 min readApr 23, 2023

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Eddie Van Halen signature guitars have become ubiquitous, likely because he died a few years ago.

Novices to virtuosos are also unabashedly playing in Ed’s inimitable yet instantly recognizable style.

Such posthumous homage is common throughout every human endeavor, especially the arts.

Epic, style-defining talents peak in popularity after they die: we no longer need to feel jealous of them.

Hero-worship also transforms into mythological status, flesh and blood humans become immortal legends.

IMHO no one has earned these accolades more. Ed re-engineered the instrument and how it’s played.

Was Eddie a nice guy? No. Was his range limited? Yes. Were his last 25 years a wasted washout? Yes.

So what: his first two decades from 1977 to 1997 were nuclear-powered — behold Pasadena’s Atomic Punk!

The Muse is fickle, like most great lovers. Ed brought the best & worst to his art and his relationships.

Geniuses like EVH remind us that creativity transcends mere knowledge and technique.

At the heart of great art is a strong, unique, and expressive voice. At the core is a powerful point of view.

Ed showed us how to fall down the stairs and land on our feet. Be bold! Jump! Get back up, and keep rocking…

We adore geniuses after they die because they no longer threaten us. Their death absolves us of uncomfortable comparisons, enabling worship.

#evh #evhguitars #genius #inspiration

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Mookie Spitz

Author and communications strategist. His latest book SUPER SANTA is available on Amazon, with a sci fi adventure set for Valentine's Day 2024.