Today marks the one-year anniversary of Eddie Van Halen‘s death.
The legendary guitar virtuoso and Van Halen co-founder died October 6, 2020, following a battle with cancer. He was 65.
Eddie and his older brother, Alex, were born in The Netherlands before the Van Halen family moved to Pasadena, California, in 1962. The two were interested in music in an early age and played in several bands together before forming Van Halen in the early ’70s with Eddie on guitar and Alex on drums. They soon found vocalist David Lee Roth and bassist Michael Anthony, who comprised Van Halen’s “classic” lineup.
Though each member of Van Halen brought their own personality to the band, Eddie’s guitar playing was always the star of the show. He was particularly renowned for his finger-tapping technique, famously heard in the Van Halen instrumental “Eruption,” which is now considered to be among the greatest guitar solos of all time.
Van Halen’s classic lineup released six albums, from 1978’s self-titled debut to 1984’s 1984, and produced classic singles in “Runnin’ with the Devil,” “Ain’t Talkin’ ’bout Love,” “Dance the Night Away,” “Unchained,” “Panama,” and the number-one hit, “Jump.”
In between all that, Eddie married actress Valerie Bertinelli in 1981 — with whom he had a son, Wolfgang, in 1991 — and played the solo on Michael Jackson‘s hit “Beat It.”
Roth left Van Halen in 1985 and was replaced by Sammy Hagar, whose tenure fronting the band produced four-straight number-one albums. Hagar was then replaced by Gary Cherone for one more album before Van Halen disbanded in 1999.
During the group’s hiatus, Eddie underwent treatment for tongue cancer and separated from Bertinelli. The couple eventually divorced in 2007, and Eddie married his second wife, publicist Janie Liszewski, in 2009.
Van Halen reunited briefly in the mid-2000s with Hagar singing before reforming again in 2006, with Roth back and a then-teenage Wolfgang playing bass instead of Anthony. That lineup would produce a final Van Halen album, 2012’s A Different Kind of Truth, before playing their last tour together in 2015.
Following his father’s death, Wolfgang revealed that there had been plans for a so-called “Kitchen Sink” Van Halen reunion tour, which would potentially feature Anthony back along with all three of the band’s singers. However, those plans were put on hold due to Eddie’s declining health.
Wolfgang, meanwhile, is carrying on the family legacy with his solo band, Mammoth WVH. The project has already scored two number-one Billboard rock singles.
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