Eddie Van Halen, guitarist and founding member of the hugely successful rock band named after him and his drummer brother, has died of cancer, his son said on Twitter on Tuesday. He was 65.
“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”, Wolfgang Van Halen said in the tweet
— Wolf Van Halen (@WolfVanHalen) October 6, 2020
“He was the best father I could ever ask for,” Wolfgang continued. “Every moment I’ve shared with him on and off stage was a gift.”
Eddie and his brother Alex founded Van Halen in the early 1970s in Los Angeles. The classic lineup is typically considered to include the Van Halen brothers, vocalist David Lee Roth and bassist Michael Anthony.
The hard rock band became a staple of the famed Sunset Strip before releasing their eponymous debut album in 1978.
The album shot to number 19 on the Billboard charts, becoming one of the most successful debuts of the decade.
Van Halen released albums on a yearly timetable – Van Halen II (1979), Women and Children First (1980), Fair Warning (1981) and Diver Down (1982) – until the monumental 1984, which hit number two on the Billboard 200 album charts (only behind Michael Jackson’s Thriller).
The group continued to enjoy great success, with four number one records in the United States.
After their first album, no subsequent studio release ever debuted outside the top 10. Van Halen also had numerous hit singles and Rolling Stone ranked 1984 number 81 on its list of the 100 Greatest Albums of the 1980s.
The thing I loved most about Eddie Van Halen wasn't the riffs, the solos or how he reinvented the instrument. It's the way he smiled when he played. The joy in that guy. How you can be the best in the world at something and still wonder like a kid at it. Thank you so much, Eddie. pic.twitter.com/5KlPvWuEAv
— Adam Ritchie (@fontbandit) October 6, 2020
“Eddie put the smile back in rock guitar, at a time when it was all getting a bit brooding. He also scared the hell out of a million guitarists around the world, because he was so damn good. And original,” Joe Satriani, a fellow virtuoso, told Billboard in 2015.