Eddie Van Halen, cofounder of the legendary arena-rock band Van Halen and widely considered the greatest guitarist of all time, died today at the age of 65 after a long battle with cancer. The remembrances have been especially plentiful and passionate for obvious reasons, and they include tributes from several of Van Halen’s former bandmates.
Van Halen’s original lead singer David Lee Roth, who reunited with the band a couple times down the line, published a photo of himself with Eddie to his social media accounts, captioned, “What a Long Great Trip It’s Been.” Original bassist Michael Anthony — who in later years was somewhat controversially replaced by Eddie’s son Wolfgang — posted several photos of himself with Eddie, captioned: “No words…Heartbroken, my love to the family,” with a broken heart emoji. Sammy Hagar, who replaced Roth in 1985 and continued as Van Halen’s lead singer until 1996, also shared a portrait of himself with the guitar legend. “Heartbroken and speechless,” Hagar wrote. “My love to the family.” Gary Cherone, the band’s third singer who appeared on 1998’s Van Halen III, wrote, “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!”
Hagar tells Howard Stern he and EVH had recently rekindled their friendship in secret:
“Eddie and I had been texting, and it’s been a love fest since we started communicating earlier this year. We both agreed not to tell anyone, because of all the rumors it would stir up about a reunion, et cetera, and we both knew that wasn’t gonna happen. But he also didn’t want anyone to know about his health.
He stopped responding to me a month ago, and I figured it wasn’t good. I reached out one more time last week, and when he didn’t respond, I figured it was a matter of time. But it came way too soon.”
Eddie Van Halen’s ex-wife, actress Valerie Bertinelli, paid tribute as well, along with his widow, Janie Liszewski.
40 years ago my life changed forever when I met you. You gave me the one true light in my life, our son, Wolfgang.
Through all your challenging treatments for lung cancer, you kept your gorgeous spirit and that impish grin.
I’m so grateful Wolfie and I were able to hold you in your last moments.
I will see you in our next life my love.
UPDATE: Eddie’s brother, Van Halen drummer Alex, has shared a message too.