Edward Lodewijk “Eddie” Van Halen, lead guitarist of US rock band Van Halen, died Tuesday at age 65 following an extended battle with throat cancer. His death was confirmed by his son, Wolfgang Van Halen.
Van Halen was a native of the Netherlands, eventually relocating to Pasadena, California.
Numerous iconic rock musicians such as Billy Idol and Yusuf/Cat Stevens paid tribute to the guitarist following the announcement of his death.
Eddie Van Halen was known for his heavy use of two-handed tapping and complex harmonics in his guitar playing, and has been widely regarded as one of the most influential electric guitarists. The guitarist formed Van Halen with his brother Alex Van Halen in 1972. The band’s 1978 self-titled debut album peaked at #19 on the Billboard charts and was certified Diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), having sold over 10 million copies. The band eventually rose to become one of the best-selling musical artists to date. In 2007 they were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
The guitarist is perhaps best-known for his guitar solo Eruption, the second track on the group’s debut album. Mike McCready of Pearl Jam likened his first time hearing the solo to first hearing classical composer Mozart. In an interview with Rolling Stone, McCready commented, “he gets sounds that aren’t necessarily guitar sounds — a lot of harmonics, textures that happen just because of how he picks.”
Van Halen had been previously diagnosed with tongue cancer as early as 2000. He was known for his reclusive personality.