Iconic rocker and guitarist Eddie Van Halen died on Tuesday, October 6, following a battle with throat cancer. He was 65.
Van Halen's son, Wolfgang, confirmed the news via Twitter, writing, “My father, Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, lost his long and arduous battle with cancer this morning."
“He was the best father I could ever ask for," he shared. "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.”
Van Halen's ex-wife, actress Valerie Bertinelli, who is also Wolfgang's mom, shared their son's message on her own social media. She also replied to his tweet with a string of broken-heart emojis.
The guitarist's bandmate, singer Sammy Hagar, tweeted that he is "heartbroken and speechless."
Van Halen — who founded the legendary band, which was named after his family, along with older brother Alex Van Halen in 1972 — was unquestionably one of rock 'n' roll's most lauded guitarists, named No. 8 in Rolling Stone's list of the 100 all-time greatest guitarists. His unique playing style helped define the rock and metal genres, as well as anchored one of the most successful bands in rock history.
Despite a changing lineup, which included fellow stars David Lee Roth and his vocal successor Hagar, Van Halen would remain the epicenter of the group's consistent popularity and chart-climbing output all the way up to its final album in 2012. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.
Van Halen's work is also immortalized in other iconic musical projects, including his guitar solo on Michael Jackson's “Beat It."
Van Halen reportedly had been fighting cancer for several years before his illness was publicly revealed in 2019. He was diagnosed with tongue cancer in 2000 but had an all-clear bill of health by 2002.
Earlier this year, Roth, a.k.a. Diamond Dave, hinted that Van Halen's health was going downhill. "Ed (Van Halen)’s not doing well, and singing and dancing is a perishable skill," he told the Las Vegas Review Journal in January. "If you have the capacity, it’s something that has to be used routinely, if not for the thrill of it and the magic of creating with other incandescent spirits."
RIP, Van Halen. You will be missed.