Van Halen Cofounder Eddie Van Halen Dies at 65 After Throat Cancer Battle

Rock music legend Eddie Van Halen has died after a years-long battle with throat cancer. He was 65 years old.

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On Tuesday, October 6, the Van Halen cofounder’s 29-year-old son, Wolgang, confirmed the news via 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,” the statement read. “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.”

Eddie Van Halen Dead
Eddie Van Halen in 1978. Andre Csillag/Shutterstock

Wolfgang, the youngest member of Van Halen, concluded: “I love you so much, Pop.”

Valerie Bertinelli, who was married to the guitarist from 1981 to 2007, retweeted the announcement and replied with a series of broken heart emojis on her son’s post.

The Netherlands native founded Van Halen in 1972 and the group quickly became a staple of the L.A. music scene. In January 2007, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and two years later, married actress Janie Liszewski. His diagnosis with throat cancer was revealed in 2019, nearly two decades after he had part of his tongue removed due to complications with tongue cancer.

Eddie received his first cancer diagnosis in 2001 and penned a lengthy note about his health on the band’s website. “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,” he wrote at the time. By the next year, he declared that his cancer was gone.

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In late 2019, TMZ reported that the “Jump” artist was receiving treatment in Germany while he fought another bout of cancer, primarily in his throat. As concern for his bandmate grew more widespread, Van Halen singer David Lee Roth hinted that the group might finally be “finished.”

David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen Performing in 2015 Eddie Van Halen Dead
David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen perform at the Nikon at Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh, New York on August 13, 2015. Greg Allen/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

“I’ve inherited the band de facto — whatever that means,” he told Detroit radio station WRIF in September 2019. “I think it means if you inherit it, carry this proudly. Van Halen isn’t gonna be coming back in the fashion that you know. And that being said, Eddie’s got his own story to tell. [It’s] not mine to tell it.”

Across his decades-long career, the Grammy winner spoke candidly about his health struggles, including his history of alcoholism and drug abuse. Eddie’s addiction battle played a role in his split from Bertinelli, 60, in 2007. Eight years later, the “Runnin’ With the Devil” artist revealed that he was sober.

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“I was an alcoholic, and I needed alcohol to function,” he told Billboard at the time. “I didn’t drink to party. Alcohol and cocaine were private things to me. I would use them for work. The blow keeps you awake and the alcohol lowers your inhibitions. I’m sure there were musical things I would not have attempted were I not in that mental state.”

Van Halen, who went on unofficial hiatus after their 2015 North American tour, have sold more than 80 million records worldwide, making them one of the best-selling groups of all time.

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