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Eddie Van Halen dies aged 65

Tributes have been paid to the musician who has died after a long battle with cancer.

File image of Eddie Van Halen performing at a concert in 2004.
File image of Eddie Van Halen performing at a concert in 2004.

ROCK MUSICIAN EDDIE Van Halen, of the iconic hard rock group that bore his surname, has died aged 65 following a long battle with cancer.

His son announced the news in a post on Twitter this evening. 

“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,” Wolf Van Halen wrote alongside a picture of his father. 

“He was the best father I could ever ask for,” he added. “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. I love you so much, Pop.

obit-eddie-van-halen File image of Eddie Van Halen. Source: AP/PA Images

Born in the Netherlands and raised in California, Van Halen founded the rock group with his older brother Alex in the 1970s and quickly grew a fan base.

The group’s classic hits include Runnin’ with the Devil, and the guitar solo Eruption.

Van Halen has sold more than 75 million albums and has more number one hits on the mainstream US rock chart than any other artist, according to the band’s label. 

Van Halen had dealt with alcoholism and health issues throughout his life. He first received treatment for tongue cancer in 2000 and the subsequent surgery removed about a third of his tongue.

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

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

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

Geezer Butler, founder member of Black Sabbath, 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. So sad. Thoughts go out to his brother Alex, and his family.”

The Twitter account of rock group Pantera tweeted Van Halen was a “tremendous influence” on their music.

It said: “RIP Eddie Van Halen. Van Halen were a tremendous influence on both Vinnie & Dime & Pantera. Hopefully they are all rocking out together now!”

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Star Wars actor Mark Hamill sent his condolences to Van Halen’s son 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.”

In 2015, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Van Halen eighth on their list of the 100 greatest guitar players of all time.

Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready penned a tribute at the time, and said: “A lot of it is in his hands: the way he holds his pick between his thumb and middle finger, which opens things up for his finger-tapping. (When I found out he played that way, I tried it myself, but it was too weird.)

“But underneath that, Eddie has soul. It’s like Hendrix – you can play the things he’s written, but there’s an X factor that you can’t get.”

The band was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2007.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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