Why Eddie Van Halen’s Mother Was ‘Second-Class Citizen,’ According To Eddie


Eddie Van Halen was born as Edward Lodewijk Van Halen in Amstardam, Netherlands, as the son of Jan Van Halen and Eugenia Van Halen. His father was a Dutch jazz pianist, clarinetist, and saxophonist, while his mother, Eugenia, was Indonesian from Rangkasbitung, on the island of Java in the Dutch East Indies.

While living in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, in the 1950s, Eddie’s parents were experiencing mistreatment due to their mixed-race relationship. So, they moved to the U.S. in 1962 to escape from that and settled in Pasadena, California. Eddie and his brother Alex then attended a segregated elementary school there.

However, moving to the U.S. didn’t bring the Van Halen family solace. Eddie and Alex didn’t speak English as their first language, so they became ‘minority students’ and struggled with being bullied by white students. As it turns out, Eddie Van Halen felt like his mother Eugenia was treated like a second-class citizen at that time.

Eddie Van Halen’s Mother Was A Second-Class Citizen Since She Was Indonesian


Eddie Van Halen talked about his parents in a 2015 interview as part of a Smithsonian project called What It Means to Be American. He stated that his father was a professional musician who traveled the world making music, and he met his mother in Indonesia.

Eddie then recalled that Indonesia was a Dutch province, and his parents moved back to Holland after the war. Following that, their life conditions became rough as Eddie’s mother was an Indonesian, and she became a second-class citizen.

During the conversation, Eddie Van Halen said the following:

“Let me start off by saying my father was a professional musician, classically trained on clarinet and saxophone. He traveled the world making music, and he met my mother in Indonesia.

Indonesia used to be a Dutch province, and after the war, they had a choice to either remain under their rule or move back to Holland, and they opted to move back to Holland – where life became a little rough because my mom became a second class citizen. After all, she was Indonesian.”

Moreover, Eddie also recalled how he was treated at the school in the U.S. due to his Indonesian origins. He stated that it was frightening for him and Alex, and the school they went to was segregated at the time. They couldn’t speak English and were considered a minority and bullied. So, Eddie must’ve felt that he was also a second-class citizen.

Eddie Van Halen said about going to a segregated school the following:

“Oh, it was absolutely frightening. You’re in a whole country where you can’t speak the language; you know absolutely nothing about anything. The school that we went to was still segregated at the time, believe it or not. And since we couldn’t speak the language, we were considered a minority.

My first friends in America were black. Their names were Steven and Russell, and we became fast friends because I could outrun them. But, you know, it was actually the white people that were the bullies. They would tear up my homework papers, make me eat playground sand, and all these things, and the black kids stuck up for me.”

You can watch the full interview below.