Eddie Van Halen was born Edward Lodewijk Van Halen (January 26, 1955 – October 6, 2020) and was a Dutch-American musician, songwriter and producer. He was the main songwriter and lead guitarist of the legendary rock band Van Halen, which he co-founded in 1972 with his brother, drummer Alex, bassist Mark Stone, and singer David Lee Roth. He was well known for popularizing the tapping guitar solo technique, allowing rapid arpeggios to be played with both hands on the fretboard.
Eddie Van Halen was born in Amsterdam, Netherlands and in 1962, his family moved to the United States and settled in Pasadena, California.
Eddie and his older brother, Alex learned to play the piano as children and from 1964 to 1967, Eddie won first place in the annual piano competition held at Long Beach City College.
Eddie’s parents wanted their sond to be classical pianists, but Eddie, like most boys, preferred rock music and when his brother Alex began playing the guitar, Eddie bought a drum kit for himself. But, after Eddie heard Alex play the Surfaris’ drum solo in the song “Wipe Out”, he gave him the drums and began learning how to play the electric guitar (Good decision!).
Eddie Van Halen and his brother Alex formed a band called The Broken Combs in 1972. Two years later, tthey changed its name to “Van Halen” and soon became a staple of the Los Angeles music scene playing at legendary clubs like the Whisky a Go Go.
In 1977, Warner Records offered Van Halen a recording contract.
On its release, Van Halen’s album “Van Halen” reached number 19 on the Billboard pop music charts, becoming one of rock’s most commercially successful debut albums ever.
By the early 1980s, Van Halen was one of the most successful rock acts of the time, and thie album “1984” went five-times platinum a year after its release, with the lead single “Jump” becoming the band’s first and only number-one pop hit, earning them a Grammy nomination.
In 1992 Van Halen won the Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance with Vocals for the album “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge”.
In 2019, the band ranked 20th on the Recording Industry Association of America list of best-selling artists with 56 million album sales in the United States and more than 80 million worldwide.
VH1 ranked Van Halen seventh on a list of the top 100 hard rock artists of all time and, in 2007, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Eddie Van Halen was also involved in several projects including solo work and partnerships with his brother Alex on film soundtracks including The Wild Life and Twister, as well as musical collaborations with Gene Simmons from KISS, Nicolette Larson, Michael Jackson, Brian May, Sammy Hagar, Black Sabbath, Roger Waters, and even LL Cool J.
Eddie Van Halen struggled with alcoholism and drug abuse, after starting smoking and drinking at the age of 12, and he said that eventually he needed alcohol to function. He went into rehabilitation in 2007, and later said that he had been sober since 2008.
Eddie Van Halen received treatment for tongue cancer in 2000 and had surgery which removed about a third of his tongue. He was declared cancer-free in 2002, but in 2019 was hospitalized after battling throat cancer over the previous five years.
Eddie Van Halen sadly died from cancer at Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California on October 6, 2020, at the age of 65.
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