The Death of Eddie Van Halen

Globe Photos

Andrew Dawson, Contributing Writer |

Famous musician Eddie Van Halen died on Tuesday, Oct. 6. His son, Wolf Van Halen, tweeted, “He was the best father I could ever ask for. Every moment I shared with him on and off the stage was a gift.” Van Halen passed away at the age of 65 after a lifelong battle with lung cancer. After news of Van Halen’s death was announced, fans and loved ones took to social media to express their heartbreak. Gene Simmons, a member of the popular rock band Kiss, tweeted, “Eddie was not only a Guitar God, but a genuinely beautiful soul.” Valerie Bertinelli, Van Halen’s former wife of 24 years and mother to his child, tweeted, “Through all your challenging treatments for lung cancer, you kept your gorgeous spirit and that impish grin. I’m so grateful Wolfie and I were able to hold you in your last moments. I will see you in our next life, my love.”    

In 1972, Van Halen co-founded the widely popular rock band Van Halen. The band emerged from the sunset strip music scene in Los Angeles, creating iconic songs like “Jump,” “Eruption” and “Running with the Devil.” The songs and albums the band created helped fulfill Van Halen’s dream of becoming a famous musician. He was the anchor for the band during years of sold-out tours, platinum albums and even through a cascade of different lead singers. According to the Recording Industry Association of America, Van Halen is the nineteenth best-selling band of all time with more than 56 million albums sold in the United States. Van Halen is one of five bands to have two albums sell more than 10 million copies in the world.

Van Halen was known for his mastery of the two-handed tapping technique and for bringing the virtuosic rock guitar solo back into the music mainstream in the early 1980s. The two-handed tapping technique is a guitar style where a string is set into vibration as part of a single motion of being tapped on the fretboard. Eddie’s infamous guitar solos paved the way for many of their hit songs including “Panama,” “Hot for Teacher” and “Why Can‘t This Be Love.” During an interview with Billboard Magazine in 2015, fellow guitarist Joe Satriani stated, “Eddie put the smile back in rock guitar at a time when it was all getting a bit broody.” Satriani followed up by saying, “He also scared the hell out of millions of guitarists because he was so damn good.”

In 2017, Van Halen spoke to CNN after making a charitable donation to raise money for music school programs. When CNN’s John Vause asked the rockstar what type of role music had played in his life, Van Halen replied, “My whole life has been music. I couldn’t imagine anything else.” In the tribute for Rolling Stone’s 100 greatest guitarists, Van Halen ranked eighth on the all-time list. Speaking about number two ranked Eric Clapton, Van Halen wrote a note saying, “The only guitar player who influenced me, even though I do not sound like him.”

Van Halen served as an inspiration to young musicians and fans from all over the globe. He embodied the culture of the 1980s and was a constant source of entertainment for his viewers. Van Halen’s goal was to remind fans what rock and roll music was about. In an interview after the release of his song “When It’s Love,” Van Halen stated, “All we are trying to do is put excitement back into rock and roll. A lot of people seem like they forgot what rock and roll is about. We are very energetic. We get up there and blaze.”

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