The Life and Death of Eddie Van Halen: “Heaven will be electric”
Image Courtesy of TIME Magazine
By Yoan Dzhugdanov
Eddie Van Halen, the pioneering, virtuoso rock guitarist died on October 6 2020 at the age of 65, losing his long battle with throat cancer. Eddie’s passing was confirmed by his son, Wolfgang, who announced the news on Twitter.
“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 wrote.
“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”.
He added: “I love you so much, Pop”.
Van Halen, a Dutch native, was born in Amsterdam in 1955 and raised in Pasadena, California. He would go on to form the eponymous band in 1974 with his brother, Alex Van Halen as drummer, bassist Michael Anthony and singer David Lee Roth, all of whom met during their studies at Pasadena City College.
The band burst onto the rock scene in 1978 with their self-titled debut album, selling over 10 million copies, and changing the course of rock music forever. Considered one of the 20 bestselling artists of all time, the band went on to release a slew of multi-platinum albums, sporting hits such as Jump, Panama; Runnin’ with the Devil; and Why Can’t This Be Love.
The band’s last studio effort, 2012’s A Different Kind of Truth, saw the return of original vocalist, David Lee Roth, following his departure after the band’s biggest hit album, 1984.
Eddie Van Halen’s blistering solo on Eruption is perhaps his most distinctive and infamous piece of guitar work which propelled the band’s appeal, cementing his reputation as one of rock’s all-time greats. The track showcases his seemingly effortless, acrobatic guitar technique, with his sensational guitar-tapping and pick slides all embodying the pioneering noises, sounds and phrasing that he could summon from his electric guitar. He was, in the truest sense of the word, an innovator.
In the days following Van Halen’s passing, the streaming of the band’s catalogue surged by a staggering 1,300% just in the US alone, according to Billboard. Tributes have poured in from all over the music world, with Van Halen’s long-time frontman David Lee Roth posting a photo on social media of himself beside his former bandmate, writing: “What a long, great trip it’s been”.
Queen guitarist Brian May hailed Van Halen as “probably the most original and dazzling rock guitarist in history”.
Lenny Kravitz remembered the guitarist as a “legendary guitar and musical innovator”, writing “Heaven will be electric tonight”.
Sammy Hagar, who replaced Roth following his 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”. Hagar has also revealed that he was able to rekindle his friendship with Van Halen prior to the guitarist’s passing.
Van Halen and Hagar experienced a strained relationship and hadn’t directly spoken since the Van Halen reunion tour in 2004, before they reconnected earlier this year. In a recent interview with Rock 105.5’s Angi Taylor, Hagar stated that Van Halen’s death would have been “way too much” to process had they not settled their differences.