Legendary guitarist Eddie Van Halen has died aged 65
The Van Halen founding member and key songwriter of "Jump", "Panama" and "Hot For Teacher" had been fighting a long battle with cancer
Eddie Van Halen, the guitarist and co-founder of legendary rock band Van Halen, has died after a long battle with throat cancer. His death was reported by TMZ earlier today and was also confirmed by his son Wolfgang Van Halen. He was 65. According to the TMZ report, Eddie had been battling cancer for over a decade and his health had massively deteriorated in the last 72 hours.
Eddie Van Halen is considered to be one of the most influential guitarists in rock. Although he didn't invent the two-handed tapping he is widely credited for (Eddie himself has credited Genesis's Steve Hackett as being the instigator of the technique), he was the guitarist who made it popular. He was also known for his unique guitar tone known as the "brown sound" which came from his use of an Omniac Variac transformer to alter the voltage of the signal going into stacks of Marshall amplifiers that were cranked as loud as possible. This was then developed into a signature amplifier by Peavey known as the 5150, which has since become a favourite of rock and metal guitarists the world over. He also became known for his customised guitars, starting with his heavily modified red Stratocaster that was decorated with tape, as well as his signature models made first by Peavey and then by his own company EVH (EVH now also manufactures his signature 5150 amplifier).
Eddie formed Van Halen in 1972 with his brother Alex Van Halen on drums and Mark Stone on bass; Michael Anthony would replace Mark Stone in 1974 and David Lee Roth would become the band's lead vocalist that same year. Their 1978 debut album, which was primarily composed by Eddie, was released in 1978 and Van Halen quickly became one of the biggest rock bands of the 80s after producing a string of hits including "Runnin' With The Devil", "Unchained", "Hot For Teacher", "Panama" and "Jump". Whilst the band had several lineup changes over its history (the band went through multiple vocalist changes, including two stints with Sammy Hagar and one stint with Gary Cherone, before Roth's return in 2007 and Wolfgang Van Halen replaced Michael Anthony on bass in 2006), Eddie and his brother Alex remained constant members throughout.
Away from Van Halen, Eddie lent his guitar skills to several different artists including Michael Jackson (the infamous guitar solo of "Beat It" was performed by Eddie), Brian May, Roger Waters, Steve Luthaker, David Garfield and LL Cool J. He was also credited with multiple patents including a folding stand that could be used to support a guitar in a flat position like a piano and a tailpiece that could be used to adjust the tension of a guitar's strings.
Eddie Van Halen is survived by his brother Alex, his wife Janie and his son Wolfgang. Our thoughts go out to his family during this difficult time.