Guitar Virtuoso Eddie Van Halen Dies of Cancer at 65

Eddie Van Halen
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The 65-year-old Van Halen guitarist had battled throat cancer.

Van Halen founding member and guitar virtuoso Eddie Van Halen has passed away due to cancer, his son, Wolfgang announced on social media Tuesday. The 65-year-old guitarist had battled throat cancer.

"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 was the best father I could ever ask for. Every moment I've shared with him on and off stage was a gift,” his son wrote on social media.

Van Halen was known for his signature power chord and finger-plucking style than influenced generations of guitarists, such as “Dimebag” Darryl of Pantera, Fantastic Negrito, Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine and Slash.

Van Halen was born in Amsterdam in 1955. The family immigrated to California in 1962 and 10 years later, Eddie, with his brother Alex on drums, formed Van Halen with David Lee Roth on vocals and Michael Anthony on bass.

The band were known for their caustic behavior but dominated the charts throughout the 1970s and 1980s with songs like “Hot For Teacher,” “Jump,” and “Runnin’ with the Devil.”

In 1985, Lee Roth parted with the band and they brought on Sammy Hagar to fill his place. The band’s popularity sustained and they achieved chart-topping hits like “Right Now.” In 1996, Hagar and Van Halen parted ways and Extreme front man Gary Cherone stepped in as singer, but after one record, the band moved on without him, bringing Hagar back in 2003 and then Lee Roth eventually in 2006. In 2006, his son joined the band to fill in for the departed Michael Anthony on bass.

Throughout his life, Van Halen battled a number of issues, such as a hip-replacement surgery in 1999, a bout with tongue cancer in the early 2000s, a history of drug and alcohol abuse that led him to enter a rehabilitation facility in 2007 and surgery for diverticulitis in 2012.

Van Halen also played the guitar riff on Michael Jackson’s classic “Beat It,” and was hailed by Rolling Stone, VH1 and many music critics as one of the greatest guitarists of all time.

Van Halen is survived by his wife of 11 years, Janie Liszewski and his son, Wolfgang, whom he had with his ex-wife Valerie Bertinelli.