Rock star Eddie Van Halen dies aged 65

Keiran Southern, PA Los Angeles Correspondent
·4 min read

Revered rock guitarist Eddie Van Halen has died at the age of 65 following a battle with cancer, his son has said.

Van Halen was part of the classic Van Halen line-up alongside his brother Alex, Michael Anthony on bass and David Lee Roth singing.

The band was hugely successful and has sold more than 80 million records worldwide.

In a statement shared on Twitter, Van Halen’s son, Wolfgang, said his father died on Tuesday.

He said: “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.”

Wolfgang, who became Van Halen’s bassist, added: “I love you so much, Pop.”

Van Halen, who fought alcoholism, had battled health issues. He first received treatment for tongue cancer in 2000 and the subsequent surgery removed about a third of his tongue.

He was declared cancer-free in 2002. It was reported last year that Van Halen had been privately battling throat cancer for five years.

Tributes were paid to the guitarist following news of his death.

Sammy Hagar replaced Roth in Van Halen in 1986 before departing a decade later under acrimonious circumstances.

Hagar posted a picture of himself with Van Halen and wrote: “Heartbroken and speechless. My love to the family.”

Tommy Thayer, lead guitarist for Kiss, said he is “so sad to hear this”.

Geezer Butler, founder member of Black Sabbath, said: “Just when I thought 2020 couldn’t get any worse, I hear Eddie Van Halen has passed. So shocking- One of the nicest, down to Earth men I have ever met and toured with. A true gent and true genius. RIP. So sad. Thoughts go out to his brother Alex, and his family.”

The Twitter account of rock group Pantera tweeted Van Halen was a “tremendous influence” on their music.

It said: “RIP Eddie Van Halen. Van Halen were a tremendous influence on both Vinnie & Dime & Pantera. Hopefully they are all rocking out together now!”

Star Wars actor Mark Hamill sent his condolences to Wolfgang, adding: “But take solace in knowing that he will be long remembered and live on forever as one of Rock’s most extraordinary guitar virtuosos.”

Van Halen was married twice. His first wife was the actress actress Valerie Bertinelli. She is Wolfgang’s mother.

They divorced in 2007. Van Halen married Janie Liszewski in 2009. TMZ reported she was by his side when he died at a hospital in Santa Monica.

Van Halen was born in the Netherlands and raised in Pasadena, California.

He was a powerful creative force for the band as they blurred the line between hard rock and heavy metal.

Van Halen’s 1978 self-titled debut sold more than 10 million copies in the US alone and set the group on the road to super stardom.

They followed their debut with Van Halen II, Women And Children First, Fair Warning and Diver Down and by the mid-1980s were one of the most popular acts on the planet.

In 2015, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Van Halen eighth on their list of the 100 greatest guitar players of all time.

Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready penned a tribute at the time, and said: “A lot of it is in his hands: the way he holds his pick between his thumb and middle finger, which opens things up for his finger-tapping. (When I found out he played that way, I tried it myself, but it was too weird.)

“But underneath that, Eddie has soul. It’s like Hendrix – you can play the things he’s written, but there’s an X factor that you can’t get.”

The band was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2007.