October 6, 2020 was a significant day for the music world. We lost one of rock and roll’s most iconic guitarists to a long battle with cancer. Eddie Van Halen left an incredible footprint on music and will be remembered for years to come.
The Amsterdam-born rockstar had a long and immensely successful career that consisted of wild parties, spirited live shows, and eventually, a family. Considered by many to be one of the greatest guitarists of all time and a legend in the rock community, Eddie undoubtedly had an influence on other musicians and the industry as a whole.
In 1972, he co-founded American rock band Van Halen as the leading songwriter and guitarist with his brother and the band’s drummer Alex Van Halen, bassist Mark Stone and singer David Lee Roth. Their music combined the iconic 1980s sounds of heavy metal and hard rock, in which Eddie’s guitar skills differentiated the band from others at the time.
Van Halen’s self-titled first album was released in 1978 and climbed its way to number 19 on the Billboard pop music charts, foreshadowing what kind of success they were bound to see in the years ahead.
Seven years after the band’s first album and just one year after the infamous 1984 album went public, it went five times platinum. In 2019, they were ranked the 20th top best-selling artist ever due to a notable 100 million album sales. Later on, in 2007, the band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Eddie’s guitar solo featured on Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” guided the transition from constant praise for his hard rock abilities to a universal appreciation for his musical talents and extensive recognition throughout all of pop culture. Eventually, he was awarded three guitar-related patents that just further confirmed his beautifully irreplaceable gift. Outside of his musical journey, Eddie began drinking and smoking at age 12, perpetuating an alcohol and drug abuse problem.
After an extensive battle with throat and lung cancer for years, Eddie tragically suffered a stroke and passed away at the age of 65. Within the last 72 hours of his life, his health rapidly declined, and the cancer had spread to his brain and other organs. At his time of death at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, CA, Eddie’s then-wife Janie Liszewski, son Wolfgang, ex-wife Valerie Bertinelli, and brother Alex were by his side.
With yesterday being the first anniversary of his death, we want to take this time to honor Eddie Van Halen and remember the incredible impact he left on music. Go take a trip down memory lane and blast some old Van Halen, for Eddie.
Featured image was photographed at a 1985 Van Halen concert, courtesy of one of our intern’s fathers: Keith Madigan
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