He shredded a guitar like no other. Now legendary guitarist and co-founder of 80’s rock band Van Halen, Eddie Van Halen, has passed after a long battle with throat cancer. He was 65.
Van Halen’s son, Wolfgang, confirmed the sad news on Tuesday in a somber 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,” he wrote on Twitter.
“He was the best father I could ever ask for. Every moment I’ve shared with him on stage and off stage was a gift,” Wolf continued. “My heart is broken and I don’t think I’ll ever fully recover from this loss.”
Sources directly connected to the rock star say he died at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica Tuesday. His wife, Janie, was by his side, along with his son, Wolfgang, his ex-wife Valerie Bertinelli, and Alex, Eddie’s brother and drummer.
According to TMZ, who broke the story, the iconic rocker’s ongoing health battle went massively downhill over the last 72 hours. Doctors apparently discovered his lung cancer had moved to his brain as well as other organs.
Van Halen had been reportedly battling cancer for well over a decade, most recently undergoing chemotherapy again.
Former wife, Valerie Bertinelli, 60, who married Eddie in 1981 paid tribute to him, despite having been separated for two decades.
“40 years ago my life changed forever when I met you,” said Bertinelli on Tuesday night, paying tribute on Instagram. “You gave me the one true light in my life, our son, Wolfgang. Through all your challenging treatments for lung cancer, you kept your gorgeous spirit and that impish grin. I’m so grateful Wolfie and I were able to hold you in your last moments. I will see you in our next life my love.”
Eddie formed the classic rock group in Pasadena in 1972 with his brother, Alex, on drums, Michael Anthony on bass and David Lee Roth singing. Van Halen served as the main songwriter on their self-titled debut album in 1978 … which launched the group into rock superstardom in the ’80s.
The band released its first album, Van Halen in 1978, which became one of the most successful debut albums in rock history, selling over 10 million copies, according to Van Halen News Desk.
Their string of ’80s hits were unprecedented including Runnin’ with the Devil, Unchained, Hot for Teacher, Panama and Jump. Van Halen was considered a musical virtuoso as he could not read music. The music was driving and sexy. All one has to do is listen to their remake of the Kinks’ You Really Got Me:
After Roth left in 1985 due to a beef with the band, Sammy Hagar joined and continued their success:
While the band had already achieved hard rock superstardom, Eddie became a pop culture icon with the 1983 release of Michael Jackson‘s “Beat It” … which featured Eddie’s riveting guitar solo.
David Lee Roth leads soaring rock tributes
David Lee Roth has paid his respects to Eddie Van Halen on Twitter. “What a Long Great Trip It’s Been,” Roth, 65, captioned a photo of himself and Van Halen, who appear to be backstage at a show, on Twitter.
Hagar, who would remain with the band until 1996, also shared a photo of himself and the late guitarist on Twitter.
“Heartbroken and speechless. My love to the family,” Hagar, 72, wrote.
“It’s very seldom you meet somebody who’s a pure soul, who’s a beautiful person,” KISS rocker Gene Simmons told the BBC. “I never once heard Eddie say anything bad about anybody, and especially other bands.”
“Legendary guitar and musical innovator Edward Van Halen. 1955-2020. Heaven will be electric tonight,” Lenny Kravitz wrote.
The heavy metal band Metallica posted on Twitter that its members “are enormously saddened to hear about the untimely passing of Eddie Van Halen. We considered him an inspiration, an idol, and after spending a summer together on the road in ’88, a friend. Sending love to Alex, @wolfvanhalen & everyone in the greater VH family.”
Eddie Van Halen, Inventor
While he will be mostly remembered as an iconic shredder, Eddie Van Halen he had a successful career as an inventor owning several guitar patents. Below are somme of his inventions.
“Musical instrument support”
A device that would allow a guitar or similar instrument to be positioned perpendicular to a musician’s body, letting a musician play the guitar in a completely different manner to create sounds that couldn’t be achieved from the standard carry.
“Stringed instrument with adjustable string tension control”
A series of pegs anchored to the tailpiece of a guitar, which allowed guitar strings wrapped around the pegs to always maintain a consistent tune.
Placed the tuning pegs on the opposite sides of a guitar’s headstocks to help the strings hold tension. It also removes the need for string trees and hinders string replacement.
Though some members of Van Halen have changed, Eddie and Alex were the heart of the band … with Eddie’s acclaimed guitar work being the focal point of their legacy.
Van Halen was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2007, and Eddie is widely considered one of the greatest guitar players of all time.
He is survived by his wife, Janie, and his son.
2020 has taken another legend from us. There will never be another one like Eddie Van Halen in our lifetime.