Eddie Van Halen has died aged 65 from throat cancer.
The legendary guitarist and co-founder of Van Halen lost his lengthy battle with the illness on Tuesday at St John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, California.
TMZ reports his wife of 11 years, Janie, was by his side, as well as his brother and Van Halen drummer Alex, and son, Wolfgang.
Doctors reportedly discovered his throat cancer had moved to his brain and other organs in the last week.
Wolfgang, 29, who is the bassist for Van Halen, announced the news on social media, saying Eddie was the “best father I could ever ask for”.
Eddie has been battling throat cancer for more than a decade. He had first confirmed his initial cancer diganosis in 2001, and in the last five years had been travelling between the US and Germany for radiation treatment.
Brothers Eddie and Alex Van Halen formed the legendary band in 1972, and were offered a recording contract by Warner Bros. Records in 1977.
By the early 1980s, Van Halen was one of the most successful rock acts of the time, with their album 1984 going five-times platinum thanks to hits like Jump, Panama and I’ll Wait.
In January 2007, Van Halen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Eddie’s guitar style has had a significant influence on the music industry, with the rocker launching the two-handed tapping technique into the mainstream in the late ‘70s.
He also performed the epic guitar solo in Michael Jackson’s smash 1982 hit, Beat It, though at the time did it uncredited and for nothing but a case of beer as a favour to producer Quincy Jones.
“I did it as a favour”, Eddie later admitted. “I was a complete fool, according to the rest of the band, our manager and everyone else.
“I was not used. I knew what I was doing – I don’t do something unless I want to do it.”
Tributes from artists in the entertainment industry are already pouring in for the guitar god:
From 1974 until 1985, Van Halen comprised of Eddie, Alex, vocalist David Lee Roth and bassist Michael Anthony.
Roth controversially left Van Halen in 1985 to embark on a solo career, and was replaced by Sammy Hagar.
Given Roth’s popularity there were fears Van Halen wouldn’t recover after his departure, but the group went on to release four US number-one, multi-platinum albums over 11 years under Hagar, who left the band in 1996 and was replaced by Gary Cherone.
Van Halen went on a break in 1999 until reuniting with Hagar for a worldwide tour in 2004, which grossed an astronimcal $US55 million.
Hagar again left Van Halen in 2005 and the following year Roth returned and Anthony was replaced on bass guitar by Wolfgang, Eddie’s son.
Eddie and Alex have never left Van Halen, the band they formed together.
More to come