An incredible new Eddie Van Halen mural was unveiled in California this week, on what would have been the late rocker's 66th birthday. The mural is titled "Long Live the King" and was created by Robert Vargas in collaboration with Guitar Center. The awe-inspiring art was revealed on Sunset Strip in Hollywood on Tuesday, which would have been Van Halen's birthday. The rock icon tragically passed away in 2020 after a long battle with cancer.
Speaking to PEOPLE, Vargas shared that he feels really great about completing the piece "completely free-hand [with] all brush work, no grids, no projections and no stencils" in around only 10 days. "I feel exhilarated. It's a triumph. Creating the mural for Eddie Van Halen was a labor of love," Vargas continued. "I was able to not only express my admiration and appreciation for him, but also share it with fans along the way. To have such global support for this mural was really rewarding. In the end, I think it was an incredible day."
HAPPY BIRTHDAY EDDIE VAN HALEN: A mural of @eddievanhalen now adorns the back wall of @guitarcenter's flagship Hollywood location on the Sunset Strip, the store announced Tuesday, on the late musician's 66th birthday https://t.co/jcopjuazPA— CBS Los Angeles (@CBSLA) January 26, 2021
"To have had a connection and conversation with him about the creative process and where it comes from, although he did something very creatively different than what I do, there's something that intersects creatively even though it was a different medium," Vargas also said. "[Eddie] got to see me draw and was totally into it. To connect on that level, and full circle connect and come back through my creative process to create something that celebrates him and his creative process, and share it with the world — this just means everything because it really felt like a dialogue with him, one last time, right there on the wall while I was creating it."
The mural wasn't just some commissioned project that Vargas took, as he admitted to PEOPLE that he has been a fan of Van Halen's music for years and that the self-titled debut from Van Halen was the first record he ever owned. In addition to Vargas, Guitar Center category manager Jean-Claude Escudie also offered some glowing words about Van Halen, saying in a statement about the unveiling, "Eddie Van Halen was a truly monumental force in rock music. He made lead guitar playing popular when it might have been slipping away ... Besides that, sometimes people forget that he was an immigrant and multi-racial, so in so many ways, his story is the story of the American experience."