Eddie Van Halen remembered as ‘the Mozart of rock guitar’

Guitarist Eddie Van Halen of Van Halen performs in 2015.
(Daniel Knighton / Getty Images)

Eddie Van Halen, the guitar legend who anchored the band Van Halen, died of throat cancer Tuesday age 65. His son, Wolf Van Halen, who played bass in his father’s band, broke the news on social media.

“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 younger Van Halen wrote on Twitter. “He was the best father I could ever ask for. Every moment I’ve shared with him on and off stage was a gift. ... I love you so much, Pop.”

Actress Valerie Bertinelli, Wolf Van Halen’s mother and Eddie Van Halen’s ex-wife, responded with a string of broken-heart emojis.

Former Van Halen lead vocalist Sammy Hagar was “heartbroken and speechless,” he wrote. “My love to the family.”


Fellow rockers of Van Halen’s era — including members of the rock band Kiss — grieved the loss of a contemporary and a “trailblazer.”

“My heart is broken,” wrote Kiss bassist and co-lead singer Gene Simmons. “Eddie was not only a Guitar God, but a genuinely beautiful soul.”

Paul Stanley, Kiss’ rhythm guitarist and co-lead vocalist, called Van Halen “a trailblazer and someone who always gave everything to his music,” as well as “a good soul.”

“I remember first seeing him playing at the Starwood in 1976 and he WAS Eddie Van Halen,” Stanley wrote. “So shocked and sad.”

“So sad to hear this,” added Kiss lead guitarist Tommy Thayer.

“Crushed,” tweeted Mötley Crüe songwriter and bassist Nikki Sixx. “You changed our world. You were the Mozart of rock guitar. Travel safe rockstar.”

English rocker Billy Idol shared his condolences, accompanied by photos of the two musicians playing together.

“Rest in peace guitar legend Eddie Van Halen,” Idol wrote. “We will miss you.”

Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea told Van Halen that “I hope you jam with Jimi [Hendrix] tonight. Break through to the other side my brother.”

News of Van Halen’s death rocked the wide world of music, reaching country star Kenny Chesney. “I am devastated at the news of the passing of my friend Eddie Van Halen,” Chesney tweeted. “He was a friend and a hero to anyone who has ever picked up a guitar and had a dream.”

Here’s a sample of what other admirers are saying: