On Tuesday, legendary guitarist Eddie Van Halen, 65, passed away after fighting a long battle with 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 72 hours 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.
Tuesday afternoon, fans and friends shared condolences and stories of the late guitar hero on social media. Country star Kenny Chesney shared on Twitter how devastated he was over the news of his friend’s death.
“I am devastated at the news of the passing of my friend Eddie Van Halen,” Chesney wrote. “He was a friend and a hero to anyone who has ever picked up a guitar and had a dream. Eddie and his brother Alex joined us on stage at one of our stadium shows in Los Angeles and it was one of the highlights of my touring life in all my summers on the road. I will never forget that night and how happy we both were that our musical paths crossed that night on stage. Rest In Peace to the best guitar player that ever lived. We will miss you Eddie Van Halen. Your music will live forever!!”
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 the greatest guitar players of all time.