Eddie Van Halen has died of throat cancer at 65, according to TMZ. The legendary guitarist co-founded the ultra-popular and successful rock and roll band Van Halen with his older brother, Alex.
"Sources directly connected to the rock star tell us... he died at St. Johns Hospital in Santa Monica Tuesday. His wife, Janie was by his side, along with his son Wolfgang and Alex, Eddie's brother and drummer," the outlet reported.
He Was Born In The Netherlands
Eddie Van Halen was born on January 26, 1955, in Amsterdam, Netherlands, nearly two years after his older brother, Alex. The Van Halen family moved to Pasadena, California when Eddie was 7. Both Eddie and Alex shared a talent for music from a young age, as the brothers learned how to play the piano at the age of 6. Despite his talent on the piano, Eddie was unable to read music and instead learned from watching and listening. He would soon give up the piano for the drums, but after seeing his brother's talent with the instrument, Eddie settled on the guitar. With Eddie on the guitar and Alex on the drums, they would participate in several bands throughout their youth before creating the band that would become Van Halen in 1972, when Eddie was only 17.
He Was Named The Greatest Guitarist Of All Time In A 'Guitar World' Readers Poll
Van Halen would become one of the most successful rock acts of the '80s. The band would have more Billboard Hot 100 hits than any other hard rock or heavy metal band in the decade. Two of Van Halen's albums would reach the prestigious diamond classification, meaning 10 million copies of the records had been sold, and as of publishing, the band has sold 56 million records in the United States and more than 80 million records worldwide. Eddie's guitar work was integral to the band's success and fans would vote Eddie No. 1 overall in Guitar World's readers poll to determine the greatest guitarist of all time. In 2007, Van Halen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
His Son Wolfgang Plays Bass For Van Halen
Eddie Van Halen and his first wife, Valerie Bertinelli, welcomed their only child, son Wolfgang, on March 16, 1991. In 2006, TMZ reported that Wolfgang was being brought into Van Halen to join the family business to play bass as the replacement for longtime bassist Michael Anthony. Wolfgang's incorporation into the band coincided with the band's reunion with former frontman David Lee Roth and a tour through the United States and Canada. While the tour was plagued by show cancellations and was put on hiatus when Eddie entered rehab, Van Halen played to sold-out shows and positive reviews. This iteration of Van Halen would go on two more North American tours in the following decade, playing shows in Australia and Japan along the way.
He Was Married To Actress Valerie Bertinelli For 26 Years
Eddie met his first wife, actress Valerie Bertinelli, after a Van Halen concert in Shreveport, Louisiana in 1980, according to a report by Entertainment Weekly. Valerie's acting career has seen her appear on several long-running television shows, including One Day at a Time and Touched by an Angel. The couple married on April 11, 1981. Van Halen and Bertinelli stayed together for more than 24 years, but after years of strain on the relationship due to Eddie's alcoholism, Valerie filed for divorce in 2005, according to a report by People. The divorce was finalized in December 2007.
After an extended stay in rehab during 2007, Eddie remained sober since 2008. That same year, he would propose to his girlfriend, Janie Liszewski, an actress and the band's publicist. The pair would marry on June 27, 2009, at Van Halen's estate in Studio City. Bertinelli was in attendance at the ceremony, while Wolfgang Van Halen served as his father's best man. Even the vows were kept in the family, as Alex Van Halen officiated events, according to a report by People.