On Tuesday, iconic rock guitarist Eddie Van Halen, 65, passed away after fighting a long battle against throat cancer. He died at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, CA with his wife, Janie, by his side. His son, Wolfgang, and Alex – Eddie’s brother and drummer – were also with him as he passed.
Sadly, in the last week, Eddie’s ongoing health issues took a turn for the worst. Supposedly, doctors discovered that his throat cancer had spread into his brain and other organs.
Throughout Tuesday, fans and friends in the music community shared condolences and stories of the late guitar hero on social media. Country star Tim McGraw posted on Twitter remembering Eddie and how much his music meant to him over the years.
“I can’t even begin to describe the times in my life where Van Halen music was the soundtrack!!!!” wrote McGraw. “High school, College spring breaks ( will not share those stories…) Just great rock music that became a touchstone for the times we grew up in…….”
“I mean come on!” he continued. “That flat out rocked and spoke to us our time….I think I’ll kick back tonight, put on some Van Halen music…and remember.”
Eddie 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.
The Iconic Guitarist’s Amazing Career and Musical Legacy
Eddie Van Halen is considered one of the best and most influential guitarists of all time. He first made a name for himself with his solo on Van Halen’s “Eruption.”
In 1972, Eddie formed the classic rock group Van Halen with his brother, Alex, on drums. The band was rounded out with Michael Anthony on bass and David Lee Roth as the lead singer. Eddie contributed heavily to their 1978 self-titled album as the main songwriter, which threw the group into rock superstardom.
They went on to create chart-topping hit after hit as one of the most popular bands in the world throughout the ’80s. Some of their most iconic songs include “Runnin’ with the Devil,” “Unchained,” “Hot for Teacher,” “Panama,” and “Jump.” Later, their success continued despite a lead singer change. David Lee Roth exited the band in 1985, and Sammy Hagar took over lead vocals.
The band had already achieved hard rock superstar status. But, Eddie’s involvement with Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” turned him into a pop culture icon in 1983. The song’s famous guitar riff and solo were Eddie Van Halen’s creation.
Members of Van Halen have changed over the years, but Eddie and his brother Alex were both constants in the band. In 2007, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame immortalized the rock group when it inducted Van Halen. Eddie is well known as one of the greatest guitar players of all time.