Iconic guitarist Eddie Van Halen, co-founder of the legendary American rock band Van Halen, has died after a “long and arduous battle with cancer,” his family announced on Tuesday.
“I can’t believe I’m having to write this, but my father, Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, has lost his long and arduous battle with cancer this morning,” his son, musician Wolfgang Van Halen, posted on Twitter.
“He was the best father I could ever ask for. Every moment I’ve shared with him on and off stage was a gift.”
Van Halen was born in the Netherlands, and his musical family moved to the Los Angeles area of California when he was seven. Without being able to read music, he learned to play classical piano by watching and listening.
“We came here with approximately $50 and a piano, and we didn’t speak the language,” he said in a 2015 interview. “Now look where we are. If that’s not the American dream, what is?”
He joined with his brother, drummer Alex Van Halen, in 1972 to form a band that would later become Van Halen, which was was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.
Kiss lead guitarist Tommy Thayer and Hollywood director Paul Feig were among the many musicians and celebrities posting tributes to Van Halen after news broke of his death.
Just when you think 2020 couldn’t suck more. What is there to say about Eddie except he changed the face of rock music. I’ll never forget the first time I heard Eruption as a teen. My mind never recovered. RIP Eddie. And also Rest In Rock. 🤟 https://t.co/DtcbFPfx7k
— Paul Feig (@paulfeig) October 6, 2020
Eddie Van Halen was the main songwriter for the band and was voted into fourth place in this year’s Guitar World magazine reader poll of the best rock guitarists of all time. He married actress Valerie Bertinelli in 1981.
After he and Bertinelli divorced in 2007, he married another actress, Janie Liszewski, in 2009 with his son Wolfgang as best man. Liszewski was reportedly by his side when he died in Santa Monica.
His death was met with great sorrow by fellow musicians and fans. Former MTV VJ Martha Quinn consoled his son, in a Twitter post saying, “I’m so sorry for your family’s loss. I don’t know if this helps at all, but the world grieves with you.”
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