The guitarist and co-founder of the Eighties band Van Halen had been battling throat cancer for over a decade. He passed away at at St. Johns Hospital in Santa Monica, California with his wife Janie, his son Wolfgang and brother and drummer Alex next to him.
‘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,’ Wolfgang said in a tweet. He added: ‘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 will ever fully recover from this loss.’
His throat cancer had reportedly gone to his brain as well as other parts of his body, it was added. The site added that he had been ‘in and out of the hospital over the past year.’
Van Halen is considered one of rock music’s greatest guitar players and Eddie was a founding member of the hugely successful rock band named after him and his drummer brother.
The guitar virtuoso also fueled the unmistakable fiery solo in Michael Jackson’s hit ‘Beat It’ and became elevated to the status of rock god. Van Halen is among the top 20 best-selling artists of all time and Rolling Stone magazine put Eddie Van Halen at No. 8 in its list of the 100 greatest guitarists.
He struggled with alcohol and cocaine abuse after starting smoking at the age of 12. He went to the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, declaring himself sober in 2008.
Eddie had a third of his tongue removed in 2000 and had reportedly been declared cancer free in 2002 but has now been to Germany to get radiation treatment over the last five years. In November he had intestinal issues and had undergone chemotherapy in recent months.
or much of his career, Eddie Van Halen wrote and experimented with sounds while drunk or high or both.
He revealed that he would stay in his hotel room drinking vodka and snorting cocaine while playing into a tape recorder. (Hagar’s 2011 autobiography ‘Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock’ portrays Eddie as a violent, booze-addled vampire, living inside a garbage-strewn house.)
‘I didn’t drink to party,’ Van Halen told Billboard. ‘Alcohol and cocaine were private things to me. I would use them for work. The blow keeps you awake and the alcohol lowers your inhibitions. I’m sure there were musical things I would not have attempted were I not in that mental state.’
Van Halen had said he thinks he got throat cancer from putting a metal guitar pick in his mouth when he was on stage, even though he had been a heavy smoker.
Eddie told Billboard in 2015: ‘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.
‘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, but the doctors say it’s possible.’
Eddie’s friend and TOTO guitarist Steve Lukather said last year that ‘health issues’ were stopping the group from touring.