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Eddie Van Halen

Eddie Van Halen (1955–2020), legendary Van Halen guitarist

by Kirk Fox

Eddie Van Halen was co-founder and iconic guitarist for the hard rock band Van Halen.

  • Died: Tuesday, October 6, 2020 (Who else died on October 6?
  • Details of Death: Died at the age of 65 from throat cancer, announced by his son Wolf Van Halen on Twitter.  
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Guitar God

Eddie Van Halen was one of the greatest rock guitarists in history and a major influence on up-and-coming guitarists. Many decided to take up learning guitar because of him. Eddie and his drummer brother Alex formed a band in the early 1970s that would become Van Halen in 1974. The original classic line-up included David Lee Roth on vocals and Michael Anthony on bass. Van Halen would become hard rock superstars with hit songs including “Jump” and “Hot for Teacher.” The band continued to record hits when Sammy Hagar took over for Roth in 1985. Van Halen was known for his tapping technique where he played with both hands on the neck of the guitar. Outside of Van Halen, he performed the iconic guitar solo on Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.” Van Halen was married previously to actor Valerie Bertinelli, and they have one son, Wolfgang. He is survived by his current wife Janie and Wolf.

A Great Songwriter

Van Halen was known for his incredible guitar riffs as well as his neck finger tapping. He was also a prolific songwriter who wrote most of the band’s biggest songs, often with original lead vocalist Roth and his replacement Hagar. He also provided the backing vocals and keyboards for the band.


Eddie Van Halen on the song “Unchained” (1981)

“I love that song. It’s rare that I can listen back to my own playing and get goose bumps, but that’s one of them. ‘Fair Warning’ is kind of a dark album. We started doing things my way, and we all kind of butted heads — me versus them. I remember sneaking down in the studio around four o’clock in the morning with Donn and re-recording things the way I wanted them to be. The next day, they walked in and said, ‘Hey, that’s great! When did you do that?’ It was kind of a cheap thing to do, but I had to do something to get what I wanted.” —Guitar World, 1996

Tributes to Eddie Van Halen

Full Obituary: NPR

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