Eddie Van Halen, considered one of rock music’s greatest guitar players and a founding member of the hugely successful rock band named after him and his drummer brother, died of cancer on Tuesday, his son said on Twitter. 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, a bass player who played with his father in the band, said in the tweet.
— Wolf Van Halen (@WolfVanHalen) October 6, 2020
Eddie and his brother Alex founded Van Halen in the early 1970s in Los Angeles and 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.
Some of the rock music industry’s biggest names have paid tribute to him on social media.
Just when I thought 2020 couldn't get any worse, I hear Eddie Van Halen has passed. So shocking- One of the nicest, down to Earth men I have ever met and toured with. A true gent and true genius. RIP. So sad.Thoughts go out to his brother Alex, and his family. pic.twitter.com/fwIw040YMX
— Geezer Butler (@geezerbutler) October 6, 2020
My heart is broken. Eddie was not only a Guitar God, but a genuinely beautiful soul. Rest in peace, Eddie! …Eddie Van Halen Dead at 65 from Cancer https://t.co/gITtcndQVv
— Gene Simmons (@genesimmons) October 6, 2020
— Billy Idol (@BillyIdol) October 6, 2020
Oh man, bless his beautiful creative heart. I love you Eddie Van Halen, an LA boy, a true rocker. I hope you jam with Jimi tonight. Break through to the other side my brother. ❤️❤️❤️ https://t.co/XpcTlPJq9A
— Flea (@flea333) October 6, 2020
RIP Eddie Van Halen. Van Halen were a tremendous influence on both Vinnie & Dime & Pantera. Hopefully they are all rocking out together now! pic.twitter.com/XtnL33aGsd
— Pantera (@Pantera) October 6, 2020
With his different solos, Eddie Van Halen fueled the ultimate California party band and improved knock disco off the charts starting in the late 1970s with his band’s self-titled debut album and then with the blockbuster record “1984,” which contains the classics “Jump,” “Panama” and “Hot for Teacher.”
Van Halen is among the top 20 best-selling artisans of all time, and the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. Rolling Stone magazine put Eddie Van Halen at No. 8 in its list of the 100 greatest guitarists.
Eddie Van Halen was something of a musical contradiction. He was an autodidact who could play almost any instrument, but he couldn’t read music. He was a classically trained pianist who also created some of the most unique guitar riffs in rock history. He was a Dutch newcomer who was considered one of the greatest American guitarists of his generation.