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Eddie Van Halen: ‘The Mozart of rock guitar’ dies at 65

The Van Halen lynchpin, who has been deemed 'probably the most original and dazzling rock guitarist in history,' died from throat cancer yesterday

By IQ on 07 Oct 2020

Eddie's last Van Halen concert was almost five years to the day he died

Eddie's last Van Halen concert was just over five years ago to the day he died

image © Facebook/Daniel Field

Eddie Van Halen, the revered guitarist and co-founder of rock band Van Halen, has died at the age of 65.

The Dutch-American musician died yesterday (6 October) from throat cancer, for which he had been receiving treatment.

Eddie was well known for popularising the tapping guitar solo technique and was voted number one in a Guitar World magazine reader’s poll for The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.

The musician co-founded the American rock band, Van Halen, in 1972 with his brother, drummer Alex Van Halen, bassist Mark Stone, and singer David Lee Roth.

Their four-decade career included a US number one hit with the song ‘Jump’  in 1984 and saw them earn 20th place on the RIAA list of best-selling artists in the US, having sold 56 million albums in the states.

According to Pollstar‘s archives, the band’s grosses since the early 1980s total over US$324.3 million from 8.6 million sold tickets at headlining performances worldwide.

In the past two decades, Van Halen’s top-grossing performance was a two-show run at Madison Square Garden in New York City on 28 February and 1 March 2012 with $3.46 million in sales from 29,170 tickets.

Eddie’s last Van Halen concert was a hometown gig on 4 Oct 2015, the second of two nights at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. It was almost exactly five years to the day of the icon’s death.

“What a talent – what a legacy – probably the most original and dazzling rock guitarist in history”

He is survived by his son Wolfgang Van Halen, who became Van Halen’s bassist in 2006.

Wolfgang paid tribute to his father on Instagram, writing: “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’ll ever fully recover from this loss.”

While Val Halen’s longtime frontman David Lee Roth wrote: “What a great, long trip it’s been.”

Sammy Hagar, who replaced Roth as Van Halen frontman when he split from the band in 1984, shared a picture of himself alongside Van Halen, with the caption: “Heartbroken and speechless. My love to the family.”

Queen guitarist Brian May wrote on Instagram: “This wonderful man was way too young to be taken. What a talent – what a legacy – probably the most original and dazzling rock guitarist in history.”

Pete Townshend from The Who tweeted: “A man in his rightful place, so happy to be doing what he did.”

Mötley Crüe’s Nikki Sixx wrote: “You changed our world. You were the Mozart of rock guitar. Travel safe rockstar.”

Live Nation wrote: “Rest in Peace to a true titan of rock and one of the greatest guitarist of all time who led Van Halen across stages all over the world. Eddie Van Halen’s influence on the industry is undeniable and he will be missed.”


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