NEW YORK — Van Halen guitarist Eddie Van Halen died Tuesday after a long battle with cancer.
The lead guitarist for Van Halen and one of the band’s co-founding members has passed away after a decades-long battle with throat cancer, his son Wolfgang confirms in a tweet.
“I can’t believe I’m having to write this, but my father, Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, has lost his long and arduous battle with cancer this morning,” Wolfgang says.
“He was the best father I could ever ask for. Every moment I’ve shared with him on and off the stage was a gift,” he adds.
“My heart is broken and I don’t think I’ll ever fully recover from this loss. I love you so much, Pop.”
— Wolf Van Halen (@WolfVanHalen) October 6, 2020
Eddie Van Halen was 65.
He started the band with his brother and drummer Alex in Pasadena, Calf. in 1972.
The band released its first album, self-titled, under the Warner Brothers label in 1978. It featured the song Runnin’ with the Devil and went platinum four times in Canada and reached Diamond status in the U.S., selling 10 million copies. It also included the famous guitar instrumental Eruption.
— John Ackermann (@jackermann) October 6, 2020
The band’s album 1984, which featured songs such as Jump and Panama — also went Diamond in the states.
The band’s following album, and first with lead singer Sammy Hagar, after David Lee Roth first left the band, 5150 went platinum five times in the U.S.
Eddie Van Halen was widely considered one of the best guitarists in the world. He was revered for his ability to play at blinding speed, with control and innovation.
Rolling Stone magazine put Eddie Van Halen at No. 8 in its list of the 100 greatest guitarists.
Van Halen is among the top 20 bestselling artists of all time and the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.
In 2012, Van Halen released its 12th studio album, A Different Kind of Truth, featuring Roth on the vocals and Wolfgang Van Halen on bass guitar.
Eddie Van Halen was also the ex-husband of actor Valerie Bertinelli, who tweeted broken heart emojis.
The Van Halen brothers were born in Amsterdam, then moved to the U.S. as children and were classically trained pianists.
Eddie Van Halen was an autodidact who could play almost any instrument, but he couldn’t read music.
Tributes from music world
Honours came for Van Halen from the music world, from Lenny Kravitz to Kenny Chesney.
“You changed our world. You were the Mozart of rock guitar. Travel safe, rockstar,” Motley Crue’s Nikki Sixx said on Twitter.
Added Lenny Kravitz: “Heaven will be electric tonight.”
“Eddie put the smile back in rock guitar, at a time when it was all getting a bit brooding. He also scared the hell out of a million guitarists around the world, because he was so damn good. And original,” Joe Satriani, a fellow virtuoso, told Billboard in 2015.
Van Halen also played guitar on one of the biggest singles of the 1980s: Jackson’s “Beat It.” His solo lasted all of 20 seconds and took only a half an hour to record. He did it as a favor to producer Quincy Jones, while the rest of his Van Halen bandmates were out of town.
Van Halen received no compensation or credit for the work, even though he rearranged the section he played on. “It was 20 minutes of my life. I didn’t want anything for doing that,” he told Billboard in 2015. “I literally thought to myself, ‘Who is possibly going to know if I play on this kid’s record?’” Rolling Stone ranked “Beat It” No. 344 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Jackson’s melding of hard rock and R&B preceded the meeting of Run-DMC and Aerosmith by four years.