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Rock Legend Eddie Van Halen Has Died Of Cancer

Eddie Van Halen, 65, was diagnosed with cancer in 2001.

Last updated on October 6, 2020, at 6:13 p.m. ET

Posted on October 6, 2020, at 4:14 p.m. ET

Greg Allen / AP

Eddie Van Halen performs at the Nikon at Jones Beach Theater on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015, in Wantagh, NY

Eddie Van Halen, the legendary guitarist for the band Van Halen, has died of cancer, his son announced Tuesday. He was 65.

"Every moment I've shared with him on and off stage was a gift," Wolfgang Van Halen wrote in a short statement posted on Twitter. "My heart is broken and I don't think I'll ever fully recover from this loss."

The musician was one of the founders of the California-born band, along with his brother Alex Van Halen, singer David Lee Roth, and bassist Michael Anthony.

Van Halen, the band's first album, propelled them to stardom when it launched in 1978, reaching No. 19 on Billboard's chart.

The band was a staple of rock music in the 1980s, with hits that included "Jump," "Running with the Devil," "Eruption," and "Why Can't This Be Love."

But Eddie Van Halen's mastery of the electric guitar made him a legend, and he was considered among the best guitarists of all time, particularly for his solo in "Eruption."

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An icon of rock 'n' roll music, Van Halen's skill at the guitar went far beyond traditional limits. He mechanically tinkered and manipulated his instrument for exactly the sound he sought.

He created a system of playing the guitar known as "tapping," where he used both hands on the neck of the instrument.

His style, developed over the years as a musician growing up in Pasadena, California, sprung more from need than anything else, he wrote in 2015 in Popular Mechanics.

"My playing style really grew from the fact that I couldn't afford a distortion pedal," he wrote. "I had to squeeze those sounds from my guitar."

To bend the strings, he sanded the necks of his guitars and, to keep the necks from becoming sticky or slippery, he used natural wood on guitars he built himself and kept using them until his own sweat and oil was soaked into the wood to make it smooth.

"It took a lot of playing to get it that way but, eventually, it just felt so much better," he wrote.

Tom Hood / Associated Press; AP Photo

Left: Van Halen performing at America West Arena in Phoenix, on Thursday, August 5, 2004. Right: David Lee Roth (left) and Van Halen perform during US Festival in Devore, California, May 29, 1983.

Eddie Van Halen confirmed that he had been diagnosed with cancer in 2001, writing on the band's official website that he had already been receiving treatment and waited to go public with the news because he saw cancer as a "private matter to deal with."

At the time, he wrote that he had started seeking treatment in Houston and that his doctors told him he was "healthier than ever and beating cancer," Billboard reported.

Tributes for the legendary musician poured in on social media soon after news of his death.

Michael Balzary, also known as Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, called him the "undisputed king of all wheedlers."

"A true rocker, a deep musician, a HUGE hart, an LA boy through and through," he wrote. "I hope you jam with Jimi tonight and soar freely through the cosmos."

Keith Urban called him a "true innovator."

"Even without the finger tapping, you had a player with extraordinary touch, tone, and a rhythmic pocket and bounce that floated like Ali in the ring," he wrote.

Just heard the news of Eddie Van Halen’s passing ..... this hit me hard.

Others in the music industry also weighed in.

Absolutely devastated to hear about the passing of Eddie Van Halen. He was a guitar legend !! Thank you for all the great music EVH.

My heart is broken. Eddie was not only a Guitar God, but a genuinely beautiful soul. Rest in peace, Eddie! ...Eddie Van Halen Dead at 65 from Cancer https://t.co/gITtcndQVv


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