Eddie Van Halen, the iconic guitarist and co-founder of the rock band Van Halen, died Tuesday morning after a long battle with cancer, his son Wolfgang announced on Twitter. He was 65.
“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. He was the best father I could ever ask for,” Wolfgang wrote. “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. Love you so much, Pop.”
Eddie was revered for his iconic finger taps, playing with both hands on the neck of the guitar while pumping out hits like “Jump,” “Panama” and “Hot for Teacher.” Van Halen formed in 1972 and became one of the most famous rock bands of all time. In 2007, the band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Born Edward Lodewijk Van Halen in the Netherlands in 1955, he was raised in Pasadena, California, where he founded the band with his brother Alex. While the original band was comprised of Eddie, Alex, David Lee Roth and Michael Anthony, inner turmoil between Eddie and lead vocalist David Lee Roth led the lead singer to leave in 1985.
Eddie was also featured in Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” a track that won two Grammy Awards and was ranked by Rolling Stone as one of the 500 greatest songs of all time. While the band released four successful No. 1 albums with vocalist Sammy Hagar, other feuds and replacements plagued the band into the early 2000s. By 2018, Eddie’s poor health had further complicated Van Halen’s tour dates, leaving people speculating about the future of the band.
Eddie leaves behind his wife, Janie Liszewski, whom he married in 2009, and his son Wolfgang.