From the very first time you heard Eddie Van Halen play his explosive guitar on “Eruption” was a lead in to the group’s cover version of The Kinks tune “You Really got Me” you knew that you were listening to one of the all- time great guitarists. It almost jumped out of the speakers at you. The 1:45 guitar effort was one of the most intense solos ever recorded.
On October 6, 2020 it was Eddie Van Halen’s son Wolf who broke the news to the world that his father had lost his two year long battle with Cancer. In his statement Wolf said “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.”
Eddie was born in the Netherlands but made his mark in California where he grew up. The initial group Van Halen was made up of Eddie, his brother Alex on drums Michael Anthony on Bass and the lead vocalist David Lee Roth. They wasted no time making a huge splash with their music.
It isn’t very often that a debut album captures the fans like they did. The first Van Halen album went on to sell ten million copies. Their live shows served to enhance Eddie’s reputation as an elite player. He was fast, but very accurate. The critics and fans loved it.
In the 2015 Rolling Stone’s list of the top guitarist of all time, Eddie was ranked eight. That put him right in between Duane Allman and Chuck Berry. Now that is being in great company.
Eddie also served as leader of the band. There were certainly many times that he probably wished that he wasn’t. The infighting of Van Halen is stuff of legends. The main focus of the friction was David Lee Roth. Apparently, the last straw was when Roth was livid that Eddie played on Michael Jackson’s huge hit “Beat it”. Roth was replaced by Sammy Hager.
Instead of tanking, the group went on to even greater heights. Between 1986 and 1995 with Hager handling the lead vocals, Van Halen scored four consecutive number one albums. That was something they had not done with David Lee Roth.
Then when it seemed that all was right with the band, Sammy Hager left the Van Halen. He was replaced by the lead vocalist from the band known as Extreme. However, things were never quite the same after that.
Even a reunion tour of the original line-up proved to nothing more than another food fight. And it wasn’t just the bickering in the band that was the ban of Eddie’s existence. His marriage breakup was front page news. Then his health starting to go bad. His reckless lifestyle was catching up to him.
He was forced off the road when he had to have his hip replaced in 1999. The chronic battle with his hip joint was a result of him never letting up on his wild stage performance. Then the years of heavy smoking most likely was the cause of him suffering from Cancer. In 2000 he had part of his tongue removed.
His battle with Cancer continued until the very end. We are indeed fortunate that the world will always have his “Eruption” to remember him by.