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Sacramento-Born Artist Tells Story Behind Iconic Van Halen '1984' Cover

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Rock legend Eddie Van Halen's death has left the music world reflecting on his legacy and his decade-defining album "1984."

The artist who created the iconic album cover is from Sacramento.

Margo Nahas graduated from McClatchy High School before heading to Hollywood and making 18 album covers over the course of her career. "1984" will always be her favorite.

"I was just so sad today," Nahas said. "I have lived with them now for 36 years because it's been 36 years since I did that album."

On the day of Eddie Van Halen's death, the Sacramento-born artist shared her creation of the iconic image -- an angel smoking a cigarette -- that Van Halen chose for the "1984" album cover art.

Her friend's son posed for the photo.

"I took a picture of him, took him candy cigarettes which he proceeded to eat, every single one, after a brief tantrum, of course," Nahas said.

The result, an angel who looks like a rebel. Only the image isn't what Van Halen's record company first asked Nahas for.

She said their pitch was something entirely different. She shot them down.

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"And so I heard four dancing chrome ladies and I said, no thanks," Nahas said.

Nahas's husband then took her portfolio to the band and they personally selected the iconic rebel angel for the album.

"They took a couple minutes and said, 'Is this available?' And my husband said. 'Yeah, it is,' and they said 'We'll take it,' " Nahas said. "And it happened just like that."

On this day of Eddie Van Halen's death, Nahas is now creating a new version of the cover – with teardrops coming from the angel's eyes.

"I made this. I don't know if you can see him. He's really sad and crying. Can you see the tears?" Nahas said.

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Nahas was an artist who left Sacramento seeking inspiration. Van Halen found her and helped share her work with the world.

"I was just so sad today. It's like the angel has to cry, he has to cry," Nahas said.

There have been 17 million copies of the "1984" album sold around the world and counting.

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