Santa Monica, CA – Legendary rock guitarist Eddie Van Halen has died after a long battle with throat cancer. He passed away at St. John’s Hospital this afternoon in Santa Monica. His wife, Janie, along with his son, Wolfgang, and Alex, Eddie’s brother and drummer were bedside.
The last 72 hours, EVH’s ongoing health battle went massively downhill as doctors discovered his throat cancer had moved to his brain, as well as other organs. Eddie has been battling cancer for well over a decade and has been in and out of the hospital over the past year, and recently underwent another round of chemotherapy treatments.
Wolfgang, Eddie’s son and Van Halen bassist since 2006, mourned his father online, “He was the best father I could ever ask for. Every moment I’ve shared with him on and off stage was a gift. My heart is broken and I don’t think I’ll ever fully recover from this loss.” He added, “I love you so much, Pop.“
Eddie was considered one of the best and most influential guitarists of all time. His trademark finger tapping guitar solo technique, allowing rapid arpeggios to be played with two hands on the fretboard became a sound copied by many aspiring guitarists.
He began to turn heads in the music world with his instrumental solo “Eruption” on Van Halen’s self-titled debut album in 1978. The band went on to crank out AOR radio station hits, including “Runnin’ with the Devil”, “Dance the Night Away”, “D.O.A.”, Cradle Will Rock”, “Everybody Wants Some”, “Mean Street, “Unchained”, “Hot for Teacher”, “Panama”, and “Jump”. Eddie was also featured and played the guitar solo in Michael Jackson’s pop mega-hit “Beat It” in 1982.
The band would continue success with ‘Red Rocker’ Sammy Hagar on lead vocals after the departure of Roth in 1985. Van Halen 2.0 churned out chart hits like: “Dreams”, “Love Walks In”, “Best of Both Worlds”, “Summer Nights”, “Cabo Wabo”, “Poundcake”, and “Right Now”. The band won the 1992 Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance for the album ‘For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge’. In all, the band would release 56 singles from 12 studio, two live, and two compilation pressings.
Though Hagar left the band in 1996, he responded in a Twitter message, “I’m heartbroken and speechless. My love to the family. Sammy.” Ozzy Osbourne went on social media to express his last respects after hearing of EVH’s death, “Eddie was one of the nicest guys I ever worked with and we shared so many laughs together. His influence on music and especially the guitar has been immeasurable. He was an absolute legend. Eddie, I’ll see you on the other side, my friend. Love, Ozzy.“
Edward Lodewijk Van Halen was born on January 26, 1955 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. He was born a year-and-a-half after brother Alex. Their dad was also a musician – playing the piano, clarinet, and saxophone. The family immigrated to America when Eddie was eight and settled in Pasadena, California. The brothers formed a series of bands, but never got significant traction until they came across the charismatic son of a wealthy doctor named David Lee Roth. It helped that Roth already had a PA sound system.
Eddie met actress Valerie Bertinelli, known best for her role in the sitcom “One Day At A Time”, at a Van Halen concert in Shreveport, Louisiana in 1980. They married in California in 1981. Valerie filed for divorce in Los Angeles in 2005, after four years of separation. The divorce was finalized in December 2007. He would later marry Janie Liszewski, an actress and stunt-woman who became Van Halen’s publicist.
EVH was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007, and was voted number one in a Guitar World magazine reader’s poll for “The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” in 2012. Eddie was 65.
Performance was recorded on August 27, 1986 at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in New Haven, Connecticut for the Van Halen ‘Live Without A Net’ concert video.
Van Halen Releases
1978 – Van Halen
1979 – Van Halen II
1980 – Women & Children First
1981 – Fair Warning
1982 – Diver Down
1984 – 1984
1986 – 5150
1988 – OU812
1991 – For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge
1993 – Right Here, Right Now Live
1995 – Balance
1996 – Best Of… Volume I
1998 – Van Halen III
2004 – The Best of Both Worlds
2012 – Different Kind of Truth
2015 – Tokyo Dome in Concert