Eddie Van Halen, Legendary Rock Guitarist Passes at 65

There are such few names as synonymous with rock n' roll than Eddie Van Halen. The legend who wowed audiences with his revolutionary tapping leading the band that bears his name, Van Halen, alongside brother Alex Van Halen over five decades, passed at the age of 65 after a long fight with cancer. Eddie's son Wolfgang Van Halen, who replaced longtime bassist Michael Anthony, broke the news over social media. The band became just as popular in their music as they were with their infamous issues with lead singers.

Eddie Van Halen of Van Halen performs onstage at Jones Beach Theater on August 14, 2015 in Wantagh, New York. Editorial credit: Debby Wong / Shutterstock.com
Eddie Van Halen of Van Halen performs onstage at Jones Beach Theater on August 14, 2015, in Wantagh, New York. Editorial credit: Debby Wong / Shutterstock.com

Van Halen formed in 1974 after the brothers had a brief run with Mark Stone trying to break out as Genesis and Mammoth in 1972. With Stone out, the initial lineup consisted of David Lee Roth as lead singer, Eddie on lead guitar, Anthony on bass, and Alex on drums. Until their falling out with Roth 1985, the band churned six albums in what's arguably their most commercially successful period. When Sammy Hagar took over, Van Halen earned more creative recognition winning an American Music Award and Grammy in 1992 for the album "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" in 1992. Their biggest hit from the album, "Right Now," won three MTV Video Music Awards out of seven nominations.

Aside from Van Halen's numerous achievements in album sales, Eddie was also known to famously collaborate with other musicians, including Kiss' Gene Simmons, which he recorded three demos with. He was featured in an uncredited appearance on Nicolette Larson's self-titled debut album in the song "Can't Get Away From You" in 1978. Eddie played the solo in the Michael Jackson hit "Beat It" in 1982. He played guitar and sang backing vocals on Brian May's (Queen) solo alum Star Fleet Project the following year. Eddie appeared with other members of Van Halen on separate projects. He and Roth appeared in the intro to the Frank Sinatra music video "L.A. Is My Lady" in 1982. He also worked Hagar playing bass guitar for his solo album "I Never Said Goodbye."

Van Halen went through another tumultuous period following their falling out with Hagar in 1996 when the band recruited Extreme's Gary Cherone to take over vocals for the mostly forgotten album "Van Halen III" in 1998 before departing ways and going to hiatus. The Hall of Fame group reunited with Hagar for a 2004 tour and "Best of" compilation. Their final lineup came together with Roth back into the fold, but with Anthony out in 2007 conducting another reunion tour playing only Roth-era songs. "A Different Kind of Truth" became the final studio album released in 2012 to feature original material. Several from across the entertainment industry came to pay tribute to the rocker.

About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangora. As a professional writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.