The guitar Jason Becker received as a gift from Eddie Van Halen has sold in an auction for $110,000.
Becker, who was diagnosed with ALS in 1989, parted ways with the instrument in order to raise money for his ongoing care, which costs more than $100,000 a year.
The guitar — which was given to Becker by Van Halen in 1996 — was auctioned at New York City-based auction house Guernsey’s.
The guitar was signed by Van Halen and bears the message: “Jason. We will play guitar together in the future. Love – from heart to your soul. Eddie Van Halen, ’96.” It also features Becker‘s thumbprint on the rear of the neck.
On Monday (December 18),Jason posted the following message on his social media: “My family, Team Becker, and I want to express our deepest gratitude to everyone who helped spread the word about the auction. Your support means the world to us. The overwhelming love we receive is an incredible gift. In the upcoming year, I’m excited to share new music and other exciting projects with you. Each and every one of you deserves to know how genuinely grateful I am for your unwavering support. It’s because of all of you that I’m able to bring the music I envision to life and share it with you.”
The auctioneers previously estimated a final price of between $300,000 and $400,000.
When the auction was first announced last month, Becker shared a message on his social media in which he wrote: “Hello, everyone, Jason here. I want to convey that I’m completely fine with this guitar being put up for auction. It was just collecting dust on my wall, and I thought it should be with someone who would really love and appreciate it as much as I do, and hopefully share it with others.
“Over the years, Eddie was incredibly kind and generous to both me and my family. These memories are something that all of us will cherish forever. To many, he was a guitar hero and a larger-than-life character. He meant all of those things to me as well, and then he became my friend. He was as kind, generous, and compassionate as he was a musical genius.
“Whenever people visited my house and saw the guitar, their faces would light up, knowing they were close to something that had a connection to Eddie. My family would share stories about the day he came over, sat on our couch, jammed, and hung out with all of us. After Eddie‘s passing, I shared a video of that special day, revealing a side of him that very few had the privilege to witness. Reading the heartfelt comments and witnessing the overwhelming outpouring of love for Eddie from so many has genuinely touched the depths of my heart.
“I hope it serves as an inspiration for people to extend as much love to others as Eddie bestowed upon me and my family on that day.
“The auction of this guitar will benefit my family in many ways, but equally important, I hope it shines a light on the extraordinary heart that beat within Eddie.
“Love to all, Jason, Family, and Team Becker.”
An amazing meeting took place on August 31, 1996. That’s when Eddie spent the day with a guy who had followed in his footsteps playing alongside David Lee Roth — Jason. Jason had been diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and was not in good shape. Van Halen came to Jason‘s house to give love and support — as well as a guitar — to his friend and to film an ALS awareness promotional video. During that time, Eddie told stories, talked about his creative process, and played amazing music, instantly sounding exactly like Eddie Van Halen even when playing Jason‘s guitar through a small practice amp.
In December 2020, Becker released never-before-seen footage of the meeting which shows a side of Eddie Van Halen that goes far beyond his brilliant musicianship: a sweet, caring, generous personality, devoid of the trappings of fame or rock stardom. The video also documents the incredible strength of Jason Becker, who had been deprived of his shot at fame as well as his genius guitar skills, but still found the courage and the will to battle a debilitating disease.
“Eddie was such a beautiful person,” said Becker. “He was incredibly kind to me and my family. Not only was he my biggest influence, he had such a huge heart. He honestly saved my life.”
Becker‘s story is one of brilliance, talent, determination, adversity, and, ultimately, triumph. A child prodigy on guitar, Jason rose to prominence as a teenager when he was one half of the technical guitar duo CACOPHONY, with his great friend Marty Friedman. In 1989, at only 19 years old and after wowing audiences all over the world, the young virtuoso became the guitarist for David Lee Roth, following in the huge footsteps of Eddie Van Halen and Steve Vai. He wrote and recorded on Roth‘s third solo album, “A Little Ain’t Enough”, and was poised for superstardom when a nagging pain in his leg was diagnosed as Motor Neurone Disease (MND),also known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS),or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, the same condition Stephen Hawking lived with for over five decades. It is a fatal condition with a life expectancy of maybe five years. Maybe.
That was nearly 35 years ago. He lost the ability to play guitar, walk, talk, and breathe on his own. But never lost his will to live or his desire to create music. Communicating through a series of eye movements with a system developed by his father, Jason spells out words as well as musical notes and chords. He imparts his musical vision to his team who then can input the notes into a computer, edit the parts to his exacting standards, and then generate charts for session musicians. His inspiring music and life story have been the subject of countless news articles and magazine cover stories.
Becker‘s latest album, “Triumphant Hearts”, was released in December 2018 via Music Theories Recordings/Mascot Label Group. The disc features guest appearances by a who’s who of six-string gods, including Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Neal Schon, Steve Morse, Paul Gilbert and Joe Bonamassa.
Photo courtesy of Jason Becker‘s family
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