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Eddie Van Halen, guitar wizard and party rocker for the ages, dies at 65

The late guitarist Eddie Van Halen performs during a private Van Halen show to announce the band's upcoming tour at Cafe Wha? in New York City on January 5, 2012.
The late guitarist Eddie Van Halen performs during a private Van Halen show to announce the band's upcoming tour at Cafe Wha? in New York City on January 5, 2012. © Lucas Jackson, REUTERS
5 min

Rocker Eddie Van Halen, guitarist and founding member of the hugely successful American rock band named after him and his drummer brother, has died of cancer, his son said on Twitter on Tuesday. He was 65.

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"I can't believe I'm having to write this but my father, Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, has lost his long and arduous battle with cancer this morning," Wolfgang Van Halen said in the tweet.

With his distinct solos, Eddie Van Halen fuelled what was the ultimate California party band with its self-titled debut album and then the blockbuster record “1984”, which contains the classics “Jump,” “Panama” and “Hot For Teacher”. The group Van Halen sold tens of millions of albums, both with lead singer David Lee Roth and his replacement, Sammy Hagar.

Musicians including Lenny Kravitz, Billy Idol and Black Sabbath's Geezer Butler tweeted their respects, with Kravitz writing: "Heaven will be electric tonight."

As reported in the LA Times, Eddie Van Halen’s signature red electric guitar with black and white stripes was well known to a generation of rock fans. His blinding speed, control and innovation propelled his band into one of hard rock’s biggest groups, and fueled the unmistakable fiery solo in Michael Jackson’s hit “Beat It” in 1982.

Edward Lodewijk Van Halen was born on January 26, 1955 in Amsterdam, Holland. His family, including his brother and future bandmate Alex, immigrated to the United States in 1962.

Van Halen is among the top 20 best-selling artists of all time and the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. Rolling Stone magazine put Eddie Van Halen at number 8 in its list of the 100 greatest guitarists.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS and AP)

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