Eddie Van Halen suffered ‘rapid decline’ in final days: report
Rock ‘n’ roll icon Eddie Van Halen died on Tuesday after a lengthy battle with cancer, and the legendary guitarist was in a great deal of pain in his final days, sources close to him now reveal.
Van Halen’s son, Wolf, confirmed the news of his death on Tuesday in a somber tweet.
“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 wrote on Twitter.
“He was the best father I could ever ask for. Every moment I’ve shared with him on stage and off stage was a gift,” Wolf continued. “My heart is broken and I don’t think I’ll ever fully recover from this loss.”
He was 65. One source close to the famed rocker opened up to People magazine about his battle in the final days, claiming that his throat cancer existed for years, but it wasn’t until his last days that he suffered a “rapid decline.”
“Sadly, the hard-partying lifestyle physically takes its toll on you eventually,” the source told the outlet.
According to the insider, Van Halen’s throat cancer eventually spread to “all his organs.”
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, his family was by his side and committed to making sure he was “truly protected,” the source added.
“During the quarantine, everyone around Eddie was even more cautious about his health,” continued the source.
Despite Van Halen’s throat cancer being common knowledge to those close to him, “many” were “unaware of the extent of his illness,” a second source said.
According to TMZ, citing sources, Van Halen died at a Santa Monica hospital. Wolf, his brother Alex, and his wife, Janie, were by his side.
Van Halen’s ex-wife, actress Valerie Bertinelli, shared their son’s message on her own account along with breaking heart emojis. The two were married for 20 years.
“I used metal picks — they’re brass and copper — which I always held in my mouth, in the exact place where I got the tongue cancer,” he said at the time. “Plus, I basically live in a recording studio that’s filled with electromagnetic energy. So that’s one theory. I mean, I was smoking and doing a lot of drugs and a lot of everything. But at the same time, my lungs are totally clear. This is just my own theory, but the doctors say it’s possible.”
Van Halen was a guitar virtuoso, whose blinding speed, control and innovation propelled his band, Van Halen, into one of hard rock’s biggest groups, fueled the unmistakable fiery solo in Michael Jackson’s hit “Beat It” and elevated him to the status of rock god.
The members of Van Halen — the two Van Halen brothers, Eddie and Alex; Roth; and bassist Michael Anthony — formed in 1974 in Pasadena, Calif.
With his distinct solos, Eddie Van Halen was the engine behind the ultimate California party band and helped knock disco off the charts starting in the late 1970s with his band’s self-titled debut album and then with the blockbuster record “1984,” which contains the classics “Jump,” “Panama” and “Hot for Teacher.”
Van Halen released albums on a yearly timetable — “Van Halen II” (1979), “Women and Children First” (1980), “Fair Warning” (1981) and “Diver Down” (1982) — until the monumental “1984,” which hit No. 2 on the Billboard 200 album charts (only behind Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”). Rolling Stone ranked “1984” No. 81 on its list of the 100 Greatest Albums of the 1980s.
After the news broke, tributes from other noteworthy musicians and actors poured in.
“My heart is broken. Eddie was not only a Guitar God, but a genuinely beautiful soul. Rest in peace, Eddie! …Eddie Van Halen Dead at 65 from Cancer,” wrote KISS co-founder Gene Simmons.
Ex Van Halen singer Sammy Hagar, who replaced Roth following his departure, simply said, “Heartbroken and speechless. My love to the family,” along with a photo of the two former bandmates.
Gary Cherone, who had a 3-year stint as lead vocalist for the group, said, “Whether you were blessed to have known him or not, He was a kind and gentle soul… His impact on ALL our lives was immeasurable! His music, eternal! My deepest sympathies to the Van Halen family… Love you Ed #LongLiveTheKing!”
“Eddie Van Halen gone too soon. Total rock legend. Never met him but admired completely. Jump is a jam!” said musician Boy George.
Van Halen is among the top 20 best-selling artists of all time and the band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. Rolling Stone magazine put Eddie Van Halen at No. 8 in its list of the 100 greatest guitarists.
Fox News’ Mariah Haas and The Associated Press contributed to this report.