Guitarist Eddie Van Halen, co-founder of legendary rock band Van Halen, died Tuesday from complications due to throat cancer, his son confirmed. He was 65 years old.
“He was the best father I could ever ask for,” Wolfgang Van Halen wrote on Twitter. “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 Van Halen died at St. Johns Hospital in Santa Monica, California, with his wife, son and older brother, drummer Alex Van Halen, by his side. The tabloid reported doctors had discovered cancer had traveled from the rocker’s throat to his brain and other organs.
Eddie Van Halen was diagnosed with tongue cancer in 2000 and received treatment for the disease until he was declared cancer-free in 2002.
In 2019, he revealed he had been battling throat cancer for at least five years.
During a 2015 interview with Billboard, Eddie Van Halen suggested he believed his throat cancer might have been caused by his guitar picks.
“I used metal picks -- they’re brass and copper -- which I always held in my mouth, in the exact place where I got the tongue cancer,” he said at the time. “Plus, I basically live in a recording studio that’s filled with electromagnetic energy. So that’s one theory. I mean, I was smoking and doing a lot of drugs and a lot of everything. But at the same time, my lungs are totally clear. This is just my own theory."
Doctors refuted the theory.
The famous musician, who admitted to smoking from the age of 12, reportedly traveled between the U.S. and Germany for five years to receive treatment for his throat cancer.
Born Jan. 26, 1955, to an Indonesian mother and a Dutch father, Eddie Van Halen moved with his family from Amsterdam to Pasadena, California, when he and his brother were children.
As kids, the Eddie and Alex formed multiple bands but ultimately struck gold when they birthed the classic rock band in 1972, later renamed to match their last name, with Alex on drums, David Lee Roth on lead vocals and Michael Anthony on bass.
They went on to produce hits like “Jump,” “Panama” and “Runnin' with the Devil.”
Eddie Van Halen married television actress Valerie Bertinelli in 1981. They had a son, Wolfgang Van Halen, who later joined the band in 2006 to replace Anthony as bass player, the Los Angeles Times reported. The couple separated in 2001 and were divorced in 2007.
Van Halen was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.
The band is known as one of the most successful rock groups, and Eddie is known as one of the most popular guitarists of all time.