Eddie Van Halen Dead at 65

The iconic guitarist lost his battle with throat cancer earlier today.

Eddie Van Halen Dead at 65


Aaron Chan

10/6/2020 5:00 PM

There are guitar heroes and then there are guitar gods.

This morning, we lost Eddie Van Halen after a nearly 20 year battle with throat cancer. “I can’t believe I’m having to write this, but my father, Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, lost his long and arduous battle with cancer this morning,” his son Wolfgang Van Halen wrote. “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.”

Summarizing Eddie Van Halen’s career as the founder and principal songwriter of Van Halen would pose a serious deficit to how far his influence truly extended. He revolutionized how the guitar was played and expanded its sonic possibilities. Born in Amsterdam before immigrating to Los Angeles in the early 1960’s, Edward and his older brother Alex would form Van Halen in 1972 and quickly became a staple of the L.A. music scene. His classical training and familiarity with Mozart and Bach along with a fixation for early Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page would greatly influence his guitar playing. After catching the attention of Gene Simmons, Van Halen’s demo was green lit and their debut released in 1978, paving way for a massive 80s.

Van Halen’s technical prowess would lead to limitless innovation using his whammy bar for “dive bombs”, altering his picking to create “pinch harmonics”, and most notably popularizing finger tapping. During the peak of the band’s popularity, his virtuosic guitar playing was a style so new it sounded like something from outer space. He would be immortalized on such proto-hair metal classics as “Hot For Teacher”, “Runnin’ With the Devil”, “Panama”, “Dance the Night Away”, “Mean Streets”, “Panama”, and the iconic solo piece “Eruption” sometimes extending to 11 minutes at live performances. Eddie’s notoriety would receive another boost for playing the guitar solo on Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”, often mythologized as recorded in one take.

Van Halen continued to intermittently tour throughout the 90s and 2000s, replacing David Lee Roth with Sammy Hagar and very shortly Gary Cherone before reuniting with Roth in 2007 for a surprise reunion tour. Their last performance with Eddie was in 2015.

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font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:550; line-height:18px;"> View this post on Instagram</div></div><div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"><div> <div style="background-color: #F4F4F4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"></div> <div style="background-color: #F4F4F4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #F4F4F4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"></div></div><div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style=" background-color: #F4F4F4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"></div> <div style=" width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg)"></div></div><div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style=" width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"></div> <div style=" background-color: #F4F4F4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"></div> <div style=" width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"></div></div></div></a> <p style=" margin:8px 0 0 0; padding:0 4px;"> <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CGA4YQmlmSr/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" style=" color:#000; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none; word-wrap:break-word;" target="_blank">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. I love you so much, Pop.</a></p> <p style=" color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px; margin-bottom:0; margin-top:8px; overflow:hidden; padding:8px 0 7px; text-align:center; text-overflow:ellipsis; white-space:nowrap;">A post shared by <a href="https://www.instagram.com/wolfvanhalen/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" style=" color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px;" target="_blank"> Wolf Van Halen</a> (@wolfvanhalen) on <time style=" font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px;" datetime="2020-10-06T19:26:29+00:00">Oct 6, 2020 at 12:26pm PDT</time></p></div></blockquote> <script async src="//www.instagram.com/embed.js"></script>