Famed guitarist Eddie Van Halen has passed away after a battle with throat cancer that lasted over a decade. He was 65.
Van Halen was first diagnosed with tongue cancer in 2000, but two years later was declared cancer-free, Cox Media Group reported.
The cancer eventually came back, and Van Halen’s been fighting it ever since.
For five years, he traveled between the U.S. and Germany for treatment, and he’d spent the past year in and out of the hospital.
Sources told TMZ the family recently found out that the cancer had spread to his brain and organs, and just a few days later, he passed.
While the guitarist was a prolific smoker, according to the outlet, he believes it was a metal pick he used to hold in his mouth two decades ago that caused the disease.
The acclaimed musician, who made it into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2007, has enjoyed widespread fame since the 1980s. He’s known for hits like “Unchained,” “Panama,” “Jump” and “Runnin’ with the Devil,” as well as his solo in Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.”
Van Halen’s son, Wolfgang, followed in his father’s footsteps — kind of. When his son first touched a guitar, his father said he “almost cried.”
“Ya know, there were some signs early on,” Van Halen told The Hard Times last month. “When he was about 9 months old I put a little guitar in front of him.
“Instead of using his thumb like a pick, he used his index and middle fingers to strum the strings one at a time. I almost cried seeing my boy touch his first guitar. He looked so lame.”
“I was afraid being a bassist would add difficulties at every step and he would flee from music and become a jock or worse.”
But he did not flee from music, and eventually became a talented bassist and the youngest member of his dad’s band.
Wolfgang posted on Tuesday to honor his father and express his grief.
“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,” he shared on Instagram.
“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. I love you so much, Pop.”
At the time of his death, Van Halen was with his son, his wife Janie, and his brother (and bandmate) Alex.
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