Eddie Van Halen, the legendary guitar innovator and virtuoso who led Van Halen through five decades
and three lead singers, establishing himself as one of the all-time great players in rock history, died
Tuesday after a long battle with cancer. He was 65.
“I can’t believe I’m having to write this, but my father, Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, lost his long and
arduous battle with cancer this morning,” his son Wolfgang Van Halen wrote. “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.”
Were it not for his titanic influence, hard rock after the late 1970s would have evolved in unimaginably
different ways. He may not have invented two-handed tapping, but he perfected the practice and
introduced it to a mass audience. Yet despite his complete mastery of the electric guitar, he never
learned to read music.