Van Halen Guitarist Eddie Van Halen Dies at 65
Eddie's son, Wolfgang Van Halen, confirmed the news via social media. His statement can be read below.
I can't believe I have to write this, but my father, Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, has lost his long 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.
Born in Amsterdam to Jan van Halen and Eugenia van Halen, Edward was part of a musical family. His father was a clarinetist, saxophonist and pianist. The family moved to Pasadena, California in February 1962 and Eddie and his brother Alex gravitated toward music at a young age, with both siblings starting on piano at the age of six. Eddie eventually picked up guitar, admitting years later in an interview that he did not read music. The guitarist learned from watching and listening, making his improvisational skills all the more impressive.
Eddie and Alex formed their first band in 1972, eventually adopting the Van Halen family name for the group in the mid-'70s and landing a record deal with Warner Bros. in 1977. The band, which by that point featured David Lee Roth on vocals and Michael Anthony on bass, released their self-titled debut album in 1978, bolstered by Eddie's ear-catching guitar playing on their introductory cover of The Kinks' "You Really Got Me." The album also featured "Eruption," a track displaying Eddie's nimble guitar playing that made him an instant favorite as a new guitar hero in the hard rock scene.
During his time with Van Halen, the band released 12 studio albums, including the Diamond certified 1984, which has sold over 10 million copies in the U.S. Other accolades included a Grammy in 1992 for Best Hard Rock Performance With Vocal for their album For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. Van Halen were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.
Eddie's skills were also heavily sought out by many of his peers. He famously delivered the guitar solo for Michael Jackson's "Beat It" off the Thriller album. He's also worked with KISS, Black Sabbath, Brian May, Roger Waters, Steve Lukather and LL Cool J among others.
The guitarist made headlines in 1981 when he wed One Day at a Time actress Valerie Bertinelli. The couple are the parents of Wolfgang Van Halen. In 2005, the couple split. He remarried, tying the knot with Janie Liszewski in 2009.
In 2000, Eddie underwent treatment for tongue cancer and had a portion of his tongue removed. He was declared cancer free in 2002.
Van Halen is widely recognized as one of the greatest guitarists in rock history, with his influence felt across players of a whole generation.
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