Dierks Bentley Reflects on Eddie Van Halen’s Death: ‘He Changed My Whole Life’

by Chris Haney
(Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images)

In a recent interview, country star Dierks Bentley touched on how important legendary guitarist Eddie Van Halen was to his life and career, which made his recent death that much harder for the country artist. On Tuesday, the iconic Eddie Van Halen, 65, passed away after fighting a long battle with throat cancer.

Yet, Bentley’s mourning of the influential guitarist came with mixed feelings on how he should properly pay his respects. In fact, the musician felt like he had to explain why fans didn’t see him pay tribute to Van Halen online.

“If I was better at social media, I would’ve done a big thing on him,” said Bentley. “As I would’ve done on Charlie Daniels and Kenny Rogers. But, when someone passes away, I don’t like the part of my brain that goes, ‘Oh, go to social media.’ That just seems like a weird thing that we’re being programmed to do.”

Eddie Van Halen Helped Shape Bentley’s Musical Career

(Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

The country singer admits that he “should’ve done something about Eddie.” Especially because Eddie was such a huge influence on Bentley since the musician was 13 years old.

“All my friends texted me because I was the biggest Eddie Van Halen freak there was,” Bentley said. “I started playing electric guitar because of Eddie Van Halen — he changed my whole life. I stopped listening to country, started listening to rock ‘n’ roll. Trying to learn ‘Eruption’ and ‘Hot for Teacher’ and all the guitar tapping, which I never was very good at.”

The country singer highlighted the difficulties of properly honoring those we’ve lost since March. With the COVID-19 pandemic still prevalent throughout the United States, gathering with others to pay respects doesn’t seem possible.

“It’s sad, but everything’s sad this year,” Bentley admits. “It’s just another 2020 thing. It’s not really sad when someone passes away — that happens. But just the fact that, like, with Kenny and Joe Diffie and Charlie, country music as a whole can’t stop and honor them. I haven’t seen anything about Eddie on TV at all. We can’t properly honor people at the Opry and have a big celebration out there for Charlie Daniels. That’s the saddest part.”

Van Halen’s Long Battle With Cancer

For more than a decade, Eddie has battled cancer. Allegedly, the lead guitarist of Van Halen has been in and out of the hospital over the past year, and recently underwent chemo treatments.

For the past five years, Eddie flew between America and Germany to receive radiation treatment. For years the famous guitarist was a heavy smoker. However, he believed his throat cancer came from a metal guitar pick he often used to hold in his mouth during concerts more than 20 years ago.

Even as he battled cancer, Eddie still attended shows and rehearsed music with his son, Wolfgang. In fact, his son, 29, became Van Halen’s bassist back in 2006 at the young age of 15.

[H/T Taste of Country]