Eddie Van Halen, the legendary lead guitarist for the popular hard-rock band Van Halen, died on Tuesday following a long battle with cancer. He was 65.
The musician’s son, Wolfgang, is the one who announced the tragic news to Van Halen’s millions of fans around the world, posting a sweet photo of his dad laughing hysterically along with a heart-breaking message.
“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,” he 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.”
He continued, “My heart is broken and I don’t think I’ll ever fully recover from this loss. I love you so much, Pop.”
This is just the latest in a number of stunning celebrities losses to come in 2020, undoubtedly saddening millions of fans--both young and old--of the legendary rock band.
Born in the Netherlands and raised in Pasadena, California, Eddie founded Van Halen with his older brother, and drummer for the band, Alex. The siblings ended up being joined by vocalist David Lee Roth and bassist Michael Anthony in the first recording lineup of the group, which exploded them to stardom after playing gigs at clubs in West Hollywood including Gazzarri’s and the Starwood.
The group’s first LP, Van Halen, only climbed to No. 19 in the U.S., but it’s success wasn’t done there, ultimately being certified for sales of a whopping 10 million copies. The band’s next five multi- platinum albums all reached the top 10. 1984 contained the band’s first and only No. 1 single, “Jump,” which sold another 10 million units.
Unfortunately for fans, conflict between the guitarist and their front man, Roth, led the singer to split with the act after its insanely successful 1984 tour. Surprisingly enough, Van Halen ended up finding even greater success after former Montrose vocalist Sammy Hagar replaced him. Following the switch, between 1986 and 1995, the group released four consecutive No. 1 albums.
After years of rumors of reconciliation, Van Halen reunited in 2007 with Roth as the front man and Eddie’s 16-year-old son replacing Anthony on bass.
Following the band’s first two decades of success, Eddie Van Halen was burdened by personal and health issues that would interfere with his work over the course of the next ten years. A chronic joint problem forced the musician to undergo hip replacement surgery in 1999. The onset of cancer, which was likely the result of his heavy smoking, led to the removal of part of his tongue in 2000.
Eddie has been battling cancer for well over a decade now. According to reports from TMZ, he’s been in and out of the hospital over the past year and recently underwent a round of chemo. In the last 72 hours, his ongoing health battle is said to have went massively downhill, with doctors discovering that his throat cancer moved to his brain and other organs.
Van Halen died at St. John‘s Hospital in Santa Monica on Tuesday with his wife, Janie Liszewski, along with his son, Wolfgang, and his brother, Alex.
Rest In Peace, Eddie Van Halen.