Eddie Van Halen dies of throat cancer aged 65

6 October 2020, 20:46 | Updated: 6 October 2020, 23:04

The legendary guitarist and founder of Van Halen had battled throat cancer for ten years.
The legendary guitarist and founder of Van Halen had battled throat cancer for ten years. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Rock star Eddie Van Halen has died of throat cancer aged 65, his son has confirmed.

The legendary guitarist and founder of Van Halen had endured a 10-year battle with throat cancer.

Van Halen, a Dutch-American musician, was the main songwriter for the band, which he co-founded in 1972.

He lined up alongside his brother Alex, who was on drums, Michael Anthony on bass and David Lee Roth who was the lead singer.

Their most successful single - Jump - reached number 7 in the UK charts in February 1984, while the band has sold more than 80 million records worldwide.

In a statement shared on Twitter, Van Halen's son Wolfgang said his father died on Tuesday after a "long and arduous battle with cancer".

He wrote: "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.

"My heart is broken and I don't think I'll ever fully recover from this loss."

He added: "I love you so much, Pop."

Van Halen first received treatment for tongue cancer in 2000, which led to him having a third of this tongue removed, and had battled health issues and alcoholism earlier in his life.

He was declared cancer-free in 2002 but last year it was reported that Van Halen had been privately battling throat cancer for five years.

Tributes were paid to the guitarist following news of his death.

Tommy Thayer, the lead guitarist for Kiss, said he is "so sad to hear this".

The Twitter account of rock group Pantera tweeted that Eddie's band Van Halen were a "tremendous influence" on their music.

"RIP Eddie Van Halen. Van Halen were a tremendous influence on both Vinnie & Dime & Pantera. Hopefully they are all rocking out together now!" the band's account posted.

Nikki Sixx, co-founder of the rock band Motley Crue, described himself as "crushed" by the news.

He said: "RIP Eddie Van Halen. You changed our world. You were the Mozart of rock guitar. Travel safe rockstar."

Kiss Singer Gene Simmons paid tribute to a "guitar god".

He tweeted: "My heart is broken. Eddie was not only a Guitar God, but a genuinely beautiful soul. Rest in peace, Eddie!"

Lenny Kravitz said Van Halen was "legendary" and a "musical innovator".

"Heaven will be electric tonight," he added.

British singer Billy Idol tweeted: "Rest in peace guitar legend Eddie Van Halen. We will miss you."

Black Sabbath co-founder Geezer Butler said Van Halen was a "true gent and a true genius". He said: "Just when I thought 2020 couldn't get any worse, I hear Eddie Van Halen has passed. So shocking- One of the nicest, down to Earth men I have ever met and toured with. A true gent and true genius. RIP."

Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea said: "Oh man, bless his beautiful creative heart. I love you Eddie Van Halen, an LA boy, a true rocker. I hope you jam with Jimi tonight. Break through to the other side my brother."

Star Wars actor Mark Hamill sent his condolences to Wolfgang, adding: "But take solace in knowing that he will be long remembered and live on forever as one of Rock's most extraordinary guitar virtuosos."