Eddie Van Halen Dead at 65
Posted by: Erin Ward in Notable Deaths | October 6
Eddie Van Halen
Musician, Producer, Inventor
January 26, 1955 — October 6, 2020
Eddie Van Halen was a beloved Dutch-American musician, songwriter, producer, and inventor. Van Halen was best known as a cofounder and principal songwriter for the legendary rock band Van Halen. As a musician, Van Halen was regarded by many fans and musicians as one of the greatest guitarists of all time. In 2012, readers of Guitar World magazine voted him #1 on their list of "The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.”
Van Halen was born in Amsterdam but moved with his family to the United States at the age of seven. As a child, music was a prominent part of his life. He would begin taking piano lessons at the age of six. As Eddie and his brother grew older, the pair moved on to other instruments. After his brother began playing guitar, Eddie took up the drums. Eventually he would begin playing guitar as well and would spend hours practicing each day as a teenager.
In 1972, alongside his brother, the pair formed the band that would eventually become Van Halen. Throughout the ‘70s, the band grew in popularity and became a staple of the music scene in Los Angeles. Finally, in 1977, the band was offered a recording contract by Warner Bros Records. The band’s debut album peaked at No. 19 on the Billboard music charts. By the early ‘80s, Van Halen was one of the most successful rock acts of all time. To date, the band sits at 20th on the Recording Industry Association of America’s best-selling U.S. artists list. The band has sold 56 million albums domestically and more than 80 million worldwide. In 2007, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Outside the success of his band, Eddie Van Halen also worked with many notable musicians including Michael Jackson, Gene Simmons, Black Sabbath, and LL Cool J among others. Van Halen is also credited with popularizing the guitar playing technique known as tapping. Van Halen was not only a talented musician, but also an inventor. He is listed as such on the patents for three guitar accessories — a folding prop to support a guitar in a flat position, a tension-adjusting tailpiece, and an ornamental design for a headstock.
Van Halen was married twice during his lifetime. First to actress Valerie Bertinelli in 1980. The pair had one son together before filing for divorce in 2005. Van Halen married his second wife in 2008. He is survived by his son Wolfgang, his wife Janie, and his older brother Alex.