Eddie Van Halen of the rock band Van Halen died at the age of 65 after suffering from cancer for almost two decades.
Rock legend Eddie Van Halen passed away on October 6. The renowned guitarist's son, Wolfgang, announced on Twitter on October 7 that his father passed away after fighting a long battle with cancer at the age of 65.
"He was the best father I could ever ask for," his son wrote in a note posted to Twitter. "Every moment I've shared with him on and off stage was a gift," he added. The son of Eddie and Valerie Bertinelli, an actress, said his father fought a "long and arduous battle with cancer". "My heart is broken and I don't think I'll ever fully recover from this loss," he added.
Van Halen had been diagnosed with cancer in the spring of 2001 and was fighting the disease for the past 19 years. "I was examined by three oncologists and three head & neck surgeons at Cedars Sinai just before spring break and I was told that I'm healthier than ever and beating cancer," he said in a statement in 2001. "Although it's hard to say when, there's a good chance I will be cancer-free in the near future. I just want to thank all of you for your concern and support," said he, as per Billboard.
Bertinelli and Van Halen were an "It couple" in the 1980s after getting married in 1981. They welcomed Wolfgang, also a musician, in 1991, and separated the same year Van Halen was diagnosed with cancer. They divorced in 2007. The renowned guitarist married stuntwoman turned publicist Janie Liszewski in 2009, and the wedding was a family affair. Over the years, he and Bertinelli mended their bond despite his struggles with substance abuse. His first wife attended his wedding to Liszewski and in time he attended the One Day at a Time actress's wedding to financial planner Tom Vitale, according to Variety.
There are very people who are still loved and respected by their ex-spouse even though their marriage didn't work out. Van Halen was one of them. On October 7, his former wife took to Twitter to express what he meant to her. "You gave me the one true light in my life, our son, Wolfgang," she wrote. "Through all your challenging treatments for lung cancer, you kept your gorgeous spirit and that impish grin. I'm so grateful Wolfie and I were able to hold you in your last moments. I will see you in our next life my love," she said.
The beloved father, whose full name is Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, started the band Van Halen with his drummer brother Alex Van Halen. Together with David Lee Roth, the lead singer of the band, they reached great heights and released more than a dozen albums together, according to CNN.
The 65-year-old's exquisite guitar skills had kept the band going despite the many turbulent decades, that included platinum albums, sold-out tours, and ever-changing lead singers. They had changed from Roth to Sammy Hagar to Gary Cherone and back to Hagar and Roth again.
In 2017, he spoke to CNN about the importance of music in his life. "My whole life has been music," he said. "I could not imagine anything else." He had also revealed who his inspiration was for Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitarists. At No. 8, Van Halen wrote that Eric Clapton, who was No. 2, was "basically the only guitar player who influenced me -- even though I don't sound like him." He added, "... what inspired me, what made me pick up a guitar, was his early stuff. I could play some of those solos now -- they're permanently imprinted in my brain. That blues-based sound is still the core of modern rock guitar."
While he had been fighting against cancer for 19 years, his health took a turn for the worse in the last 72 hours of his life, according to TMZ. The rock star had been in and out of hospital over the past year. Those who knew him closely also took to social media to express their grief.
"What a Long Great Trip It's Been.." said Roth, according to Daily Mail. Kiss frontman Gene Simmons wrote, "My heart is broken. Eddie was not only a Guitar God, but a genuinely beautiful soul. Rest in peace, Eddie!"
Paul Stanley, also of Kiss, said, "Oh NO! Speechless. A trailblazer and someone who always gave everything to his music. A good soul. I remember first seeing him playing at the Starwood in 1976 and he WAS Eddie Van Halen. So shocked and sad. My condolences to Wolfie and the family." Aerosmith also honored Van Halen with an Instagram post. They wrote, "Rest In Peace Eddie Van Halen. You will be missed. #Legend."