Oct 6, 2020: Eddie Van Halen, Guitar Legend, 65—Obituary

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The classic Van Halen lineup

Eddie Van Halen, the game-changing guitarist for the classic rock band Van Halen, died October 6, 2020. The legend had been ill with throat cancer for some time. The influential musician, 65, passed at a hospital in Santa Monica, Calif., with his wife, Janie, son, Wolf, and brother, Alex, by his side. Van Halen’s death was first reported by TMZ. Wolf Van Halen confirmed his passing shortly thereafter writing, in part, “He was the best father I could ever ask for.”

In the past year, Eddie Van Halen had been traveling to Germany for treatment. So wrote TMZ, which reported on Oct. 13, 2019, that the classic rock legend “has flown to Germany for 5 years to get radiation treatment, and for the most part it’s worked to keep the disease in check.”

Van Halen had an earlier bout with tongue cancer, in 2000. He was declared cancer-free two years later. He was a long-time smoker but claims that he developed cancer because of an unusual habit. “I used metal picks – they’re brass and copper – which I always held in my mouth, in the exact place where I got the tongue cancer,” he told Billboard.

Guitar World‘s founding editor, Noe Gold, wrote this about Eddie Van Halen for Best Classic Bands:

Eddie Van Halen’s legendary “Frankenstrat” (Photo © Greg Brodsky; used with permission)

“He was always kind of aw-shucks modest on the subject of his influence on other players. But that’s the mark of a true legend. His unique style of playing and dazzling technique comes off as effortless because he made it look so easy. And he obviously had a ball up on stage – just look at his shit-eating smile. It’s always there, whether he is shredding a hundred notes a second or pulling on his whammy bar in some masturbatory epiphany of growling, lurching, drooling feedback.

“The prime example of his astounding tone, agility and adventurousness begins with Van Halen lighting his cigarette, blowing some smoke rings and soloing for close to six minutes. And his cigarette stays lit until the very end.”

Related: Our feature on how EVH changed rock guitar

The series of family photos appeared on Oct. 24, 2019

In the past year, the guitarist had been visited by his ex-wife, Valerie Bertinelli. The couple has a son, Wolf, now 29, who replaced Van Halen’s Michael Anthony on bass in 2006. The couple was divorced in 2007; both since remarried.

On October 24, 2019, a series of four family photos appeared of Van Halen, Bertinelli, and Wolf, smiling and laughing together. All of the pictures appeared on Wolf’s social media accounts, including his Facebook page.

In announcing his father’s death, Wolf Van Halen wrote, “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.”

In her tribute, Bertinelli wrote, in part, “I will see you in our next life, my love.”

Former Van Halen bass guitarist Michael Anthony wrote on his Instagram, “No words…Heartbroken, my love to the family.”

Related: Fellow rock legends are paying tribute

Eddie Van Halen (born January 26, 1955) immigrated from Holland with his family when he was seven, settling in Pasadena, Calif.

Watch an epic Van Halen guitar solo

Related: Musicians we lost in 2020

Best Classic Bands Staff

2 Comments so far

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  1. Jammindj
    #1 Jammindj 7 October, 2020, 09:38

    He was a great guitar artist to experiment with sounds he wanted in his guitars always will b missed ROCK ON in heaven.

    Reply this comment
    • Wizard
      Wizard 7 October, 2020, 22:45

      EVH was one of the very best. Every ounce of energy went into his guitar work, the word incredible seems to be the go to, explaining Eddie Van Halen.

      Reply this comment

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