In a strange way, we have Alex Van Halen to thank for making his younger brother, Eddie, pick up guitar in the first place. Born May 8, 1953 in Amsterdam, Netherlands, the Van Halen's grew up in the nearby town of Nijmegen. Both Alex and Eddie (who is less than a year younger than Alex) were given strict classical piano lessons at an early age, which resulted in an early appreciation of music -- also inherited from their father, a clarinet player. When Alex was nine, he and his family relocated to California, and soon after, was given a guitar, while Eddie received a drum kit. But (as the famous story goes), when Eddie was out slinging newspapers to pay off the drums, Alex was beating away on them -- so much so, that he soon surpassed Eddie in terms of playing. As a bit of revenge, Eddie took over Alex's guitar, resulting in the brothers swapping instruments. The Van Halen's soon began playing in local bands (influenced by the hard rock outfits of the day, Led Zeppelin, Cream, etc.), one such group being Mammoth.