Eddie Van Halen, rock legend and guitar hero, dies at 65

The Van Halen co-founder passed away after a long battle with throat cancer

Marty Rosenbaum
October 06, 2020 - 12:43 pm

Eddie Van Halen, the guitarist and co-founder of Van Halen, has passed away at the age of 65.

The news was first reported by TMZ who indicates Van Halen died after a long battle with throat cancer. Sources told the outlet he passed away at St. Johns Hospital in Santa Monica on Tuesday with his wife Janie, son Wolfgang, and brother Alex Van Halen by his side.

Eddie Van Halen first went public with his throat cancer diagnosis in 2019, but had been receiving treatment since 2014. His throat cancer diagnosis was the latest in a line of health issues Van Halen encountered throughout his life, including a 2000 diagnosis of tongue cancer.

Listen to RADIO.COM's special tribute to Eddie Van Halen below

Following his tongue cancer diagnosis in 2000, he underwent surgery where one third of his tongue was removed. He was declared cancer-free in 2002. Van Halen also underwent hip replacement surgery in 1999 and had emergency surgery in 2012 for a severe bout of diverticulitis.

Legendary isn’t a word that can be lightly tossed around, but it may be an understatement when it comes to describing Eddie Van Halen’s influence on guitar.

He’s been included on numerous “greatest guitarist” and “best guitar solo” lists throughout the years and was a source of innovation as he popularized the tapping technique. The technique is best exemplified in his famous guitar solo “Eruption,” which is often regarded as one of the best guitar solos for many.

In the early 1970’s, Eddie and his brother Alex founded Van Halen in Los Angeles. They burst onto the rock scene with their self-titled debut record that yielded songs like “Runnin’ with the Devil” and “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘bout Love.”

Throughout their career, Eddie Van Halen’s lengthy guitar solos during Van Halen’s live shows became a live staple. Stretching out past 10 minutes long in some cases, it was a highlight that surely spawned new guitar players night after night.

Van Halen last toured in 2015 with David Lee Roth on vocals and Eddie’s son Wolfgang Van Halen on bass. This past July, Roth said Van Halen’s future was murky and thought Eddie’s health issues wouldn’t allow him to tour.

“I don’t know that Eddie is ever really going to rally for the rigors of the road again,” he said at the time.

“We had a colleague down. And he’s down now for enough time that I don’t know that he’s going to be coming back out on the road.”

Wolfgang Van Halen shared a statement regarding his father’s passing on his Twitter account after news of his death broke. “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,” he said.

“He was the best father I could ever ask for. Every moment I’ve shared with him on and off stage was a gift. My heart is broken and I don’t think I’ll ever fully recover from this loss,” he added.

“I love you so much, Pop.”

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