Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Eddie Van Halen dead at 65

Edward Van Halen died in a Santa Monica, CA hospital on October 6 at the age of 65 following a lengthy battle with cancer.

The rock icon’s son, Wolfgang, shared the news on social media.

“I can’t believe I’m having to write this, but my father, Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, lost his long and arduous battle with cancer this morning,” wrote Wolfgang. “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.”

According to TMZ, Eddie passed away at St. John's Hospital surrounded by his wife, Janie, brother Alex and Wolfgang, while adding that sources say his battle went downhill in the past 72 hours when doctors discovered his throat cancer had moved to his brain as well as other organs.

First diagnosed with the health issue in 2000, the guitarist underwent surgery to remove a third of his tongue and he was declared cancer-free in 2002. After undergoing emergency surgery for a severe bout of diverticulitis in 2012, the rocker mounted a North American tour with his band in 2015 that would deliver the California group’s final performances.

Reports surfaced in 2019 that Eddie had been flying to Germany for the past five years to get treatments that included doctors scraping cancer cells directly out of his throat and, that for the most part, it worked to keep the disease in check; he was briefly hospitalized last November after experiencing a reaction to his cancer medication.

With Van Halen off the road since 2015, David Lee Roth hinted at his bandmate’s health issues while announcing his return last year to live performances as a solo act, saying “I think Van Halen's finished and this is the next phase. I've inherited the band de facto – whatever that means. I think it means if you inherit it, carry this proudly. Van Halen isn't gonna be coming back in the fashion that you know. And that being said, Eddie's got his own story to tell…not mine to tell it."

Born in Amsterdam in 1955, Eddie began studying classical piano at the age of 6 and, as he and his family moved to the US in 1962, he would go on to win competitions at Long Beach City College before turning his attention to guitar after an effort to learn drums.

Eddie made a name for himself as a teenage guitarist on the Southern California party circuit in the early 1970s as he and his brother Alex launched a number of bands – including Genesis and Mammoth – before forming as Van Halen in 1974 after the addition of Roth and, later, bassist Michael Anthony.

The rocker’s ability, sound and presence became instantly recognizable as he built his own guitar after failing to find one that suited his sonic needs; the custom striped pattern would go on to became a trademark look with his instruments and other gear.

The band gained entry into the Los Angeles club scene, where they were spotted by Gene Simmons of KISS in 1976; the bassist would produce the group’s first studio recordings as part of a failed attempt to help them secure a record deal, which they eventually got with Warner Brothers Records in 1977.

Van Halen released their self-titled debut album in 1978; led by a supercharged version of The Kinks classic, “You Really Got Me”, it was the solo track, “Eruption”, that introduced the rocker’s use of “two-handed tapping” as a regular part of his sound that turned the music world upside down – it would revolutionize and expand the musical vocabulary of the instrument on a mainstream basis moving forward.

The debut would go on to sell more than 10 million copies in the US, leading to five more studio records with Roth – including “1984”, which delivered the band’s only US No. 1 single, “Jump” – before the singer’s departure in 1985.

Patty Smyth of Scandal turned down an offer to front the band before Eddie brought Sammy Hagar into the fold; the lineup’s first project, “5150”, earned them their first US No. 1 album, a feat they repeated with their next three records before Hagar was either fired or quit, depending on claims by both men.

Van Halen struggled in their return with new addition Gary Cherone of Extreme in 1998, as “III” became the group’s first album to fail to reach US platinum status. A series of attempts to reunite with Roth and an ill-fated 2004 reunion tour with Hagar led them to regroup with Roth in 2007 with a lineup that now included Wolfgang on bass; they would tour every few years, releasing “A Different Kind Of Truth” in 2012.

Inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2007, Van Halen have sold more than 80 million albums worldwide.

See also:

Original Van Halen bassist Mark Stone dies
Sammy Hagar performs Van Halen classic in new Lockdown Sessions video
1980 Van Halen classic gets all-star quarantine jam treatment
Patty Smyth explains why she turned down offer to join Van Halen
Search Van Halen at hennemusic