Music muse Eddie Van Halen dies at 65


Photo Carl Lender

Eddie Van Halen performing at the New Haven Coliseum.

“He was the best father I could ever ask for. Every moment I’ve shared with him on and off stage was a gift,” Wolf Van Halen wrote via Twitter and Instagram following icon and rock star, Edward Lodewijk Van Halen’s tragic death. 

On Oct. 6 Van Halen’s son, Wolf Van Halen, announced via Twitter that legendary guitar player Eddie Van Halen had died due to his arduous battle with cancer.

Marking the beginning of his struggle with tongue cancer in 2000, Van Halen received treatment and underwent partial tongue removal which led to his cancer-free announcement two years later. Evidently, this was not the end of his battle, as his cancer returned last fall and is noted as the cause for his tragic passing. 

Born in 1955, the Amsterdam native moved to California in 1962, bringing his future musical prowess with him. Van Halen was surrounded by music from the age of six, which began a lifelong dedication to his craft. 

Named eponymously, the band Van Halen, released momentous records like Jump and When It’s Love, that reached the top of the charts and secured Van Halen a spot in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. Van Halen quickly grew to be a beloved icon and continues to be an icon after his death. While transforming the realm of music Van Halen had an impact on all of his listeners and fans. WHS junior Karishma Sachdev said, “His death was really heartbreaking. I’ve been playing guitar for the last few years so he’s a hugely influential figure to me musically. His band was one of a kind and it’s really sad that we had to lose that.” 

Van Halen, who was not able to read music, could play virtually any instrument. With each riff featured in arguably one of the most influential band’s music, Van Halen started to change the scene in 1972, when he launched the band, Van Halen. WHS senior Jesse Weinstein said, “Their first album was one of the first vinyl I’ve ever bought, so they do have some sentimental value to me. As a guitarist and musician, his skills and tone were iconic. He was one of those guitarists where you know who it is within the first three seconds of the song.” 

The band was an instant American hit, and with sold-out shows, he revolutionized music and redefined the rock and metal genres. It was evident from the beginning that his band would leave a mark with each note -described as organic and distorted- featured in many of the band’s songs. Not only did he revolutionize music, but he defied what many people thought to be the limits of the guitar by expanding the traditional repertoire of electric guitar tricks. 

To memorialize the “Guitar Hero,” many have taken to social media to express their love and gratitude by creating inspired art, sharing their experiences with the artist and band, or expressing the impact Van Halen has had on their lives. “It was nice seeing people who I didn’t peg as huge rock music fans posting tributes to him on social media,” said Weinstein. 

Whether through his swift and spontaneous guitar riffs and solos or his iconic tapping technique, Van Halen radiated unique energy that will live alongside his legacy as his music and persona continue to influence generations of music fans. With Van Halen’s songs streamed over 30 million times since his death last week, this star will continue to shine.