Legendary Guitarist Eddie Van Halen Dead at 65

Legendary Guitarist Eddie Van Halen Dead at 65

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Eddie Van Halen, lead guitarist for the band Van Halen, has died following a battle with throat cancer, the LA Times reports. He was 65.

The musician’s son, Wolfgang Van Halen, confirmed the news in a tweet.

“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, who took over as Van Halen’s bassist in 2006, wrote. “He was the best father I could ever ask for. Every moment I’ve shared with him on and off stage was a gift.”

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Van Halen was the founder, songwriter, and lead guitarist for beloved rock group and ‘80s staple Van Halen. The group, which also included his brother, Alex Van Halen, and singer David Lee Roth (and, at times, Sammy Hagar) released 12 studio albums, and was inducted into the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame Back in 2007.

Van Halen was diagnosed with tongue cancer back in 2000, but declared cancer-free in 2002. He’d kept his health situation out of the public eye, but it came to light in 2019 that Van Halen had been diagnosed with throat cancer in the last five years, and had been flying back and forth between the U.S. and Germany to receive treatments.

Van Halen was responsible for numerous hits with his group, including “Panama,” “Jump,” and “Runnin’ With The Devil,” among countless others; he also played the iconic guitar solo on Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.”

As soon as news of Van Halen’s death became public, reactions began pouring in.

“Oh NO! Speechless. A trailblazer and someone who always gave everything to his music. A good soul,” Paul Stanley of KISS, one of Van Halen’s contemporaries, wrote in a tweet. “I remember first seeing him playing at the Starwood in 1976 and he WAS Eddie Van Halen. So shocked and sad. My condolences to Wolfie and the family.”

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TV personality Jimmy Kimmel also reacted. “Two of the best hours of my life were spent chatting with Eddie Van Halen. A great musician, yes—also a funny and lovely guy who will be missed terribly. Sending love to Janie, Wolf, Alex & all those who loved him.”

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“Rest in peace guitar legend Eddie Van Halen,” wrote fellow ’80s icon Billy idol. “We will miss you.”

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This story is breaking and will be updated.

Evan is an associate editor for Men’s Health, with bylines in The New York Times, MTV News, Brooklyn Magazine, and VICE.

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