Van Halen Co-Founder Eddie Van Halen 1955 – 2020
Van Halen guitarist Eddie Van Halen died at age 65 this morning after a “long and arduous battle with cancer.” The tragic news was confirmed by Eddie’s son and Van Halen band mate, Wolfgang Van Halen.
Edward Lodewijk Van Halen was born in Amsterdam on January 26, 1955. The Van Halen family moved to California when Eddie was seven-years-old and he soon took up piano. Eddie bought a drum kit and eventually started playing guitar after realizing his brother, Alex, was more proficient on drums. The transition was a good one as Eddie Van Halen went on to become one of rock’s most revered and influential guitarists. His solos were the stuff of legend thanks in part to the finger-tapping that was a huge part of his style.
Alex and Eddie formed Van Halen in 1972 and settled in on the classic lineup with bassist Michael Anthony and vocalist David Lee Roth in 1974. Van Halen released their self-titled debut studio album in 1978, which went on to sell more than 10 million copies. Next came the equally succesful Van Halen II as part of a string of multi-platinum albums that also included Women & Children First, Fair Warning and Diver Down. The band was also known for their impressive and wild live concerts featuring fretboard fireworks galore from Eddie and rowdy theatrics from David Lee Roth.
While 1984 cemented Van Halen’s spot towards the top of the best-selling and drawing acts of the era, and included the chart-topping single “Jump,” the band parted ways with Roth the following year. Sammy Hagar replaced the vocalist and Van Halen didn’t miss a beat with 5150, OU812 and Unlawful Carnal Knowledge and their accompanying tours each a massive success. However, Hagar departed in 1996 beginning a tumultuous period for the group that saw Gary Cherone come aboard for an album and a tour before Sammy returned for a tour in 2004.
Hagar’s second stint was short-lived and David Lee Roth returned to the fold in 2006, the same year Wolfgang Van Halen replaced Michael Anthony. The lineup of David Lee Roth, Eddie, Alex and Wolfgang embarked on a few tours and put out what now stands as the final Van Halen album, A Different Kind Of Truth, in 2012.
TMZ reported Eddie Van Halen had been battling throat cancer for “well over a decade.” The outlet also noted, “in the last 72 hours Eddie’s ongoing health battle went massively downhill — doctors discovered his throat cancer had moved to his brain as well as other organs.” Wolfgang, Alex and Eddie’s wife, Janie, were by his side when he died as per TMZ.
Watch Eddie’s first solo from a 2015 concert in Camden, New Jersey: