Rock legend Eddie Van Halen dead at 65

'Van Halen' lead guitarist Eddie Van Halen dies from cancer at age 65.

Tags: Rock Music
David Rosenberg ,

Eddie Van Halen in 2012
Eddie Van Halen in 2012

Eddie Van Halen, the lead guitarist and songwriter for the band ‘Van Halen’, has died of cancer. He was 65.

He is survived by his son, Wolfgang, and his wife, Jane.

Van Halen, born in Amsterdam, moved with his family at the age of seven to southern California, where he lived for most of his life.

Along with his older brother, Alex Van Halen, Eddie was introduced to music at a young age, learning to play the piano at age six.

By elementary school, Eddie had moved to the electric guitar, and Alex to the drums, with the brothers forming their first band while Eddie was still in the fourth grade.

Eight years later, in 1972 when Eddie was 17, the brothers formed a new band, Mammoth, which eventually adopted the name “Van Halen”. Eddie, the lead guitarist, also served as the band’s singer in its early years.

In 1974, the band replaced Eddie on vocals with David Lee Roth, and took on guitarist Michael Anthony, establishing a lineup which held together for eleven years, during which the band produced some of its biggest hits.

After the band’s rise to fame in the mid-to-late 1970s, Eddie Van Halen collaborated with other high-profile recording artists, including Michael Jackson, Gene simmons, Brian May, Nicolette Larson, Black Sabbath, and Roger Waters.

During his career, Eddie received plaudits for his unorthodox guitar style, establishing a reputation as one of the top guitarists in rock music. In 2012, he was voted number one in Guitar World’s poll of the top 100 guitarists of all time.

In 1980, Eddie began dating actress Valeire Bertinelli, marrying her a year later. The couple had one son, Wolfgang, born in 1991. The two divorced in 2007. Eddie was remarried in 2009, marrying actress and publicist Janie Liszewski.

Starting in 2007, Eddie’s son, Wolfgang, served as the bassist for Van Halen, replacing Michael Anthony and helping to record the band’s final studio album, ‘A Different Kind of Truth’, in 2012, along with a live album three years later.

Eddie suffered from decades-long addictions, including to alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs, and underwent rehabilitation in 2007.

He was first diagnosed with cancer in 2000, first suffering from tongue cancer, and later from throat cancer.

On Tuesday, Eddie’s son, Wolfgang, eulogized his father on Instagram.

“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 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.”