SANTA MONICA, Calif. (NEXSTAR) – Legendary guitarist Eddie Van Halen has died at the age of 65, his son tweeted Tuesday.
The co-founder of Van Halen had been battling throat cancer and died surrounded by friends and family at a Santa Monica, California hospital Tuesday, sources told TMZ.
“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,” his son Wolfgang said in a statement. Wolfgang, 29, joined his father’s band as the bassist in 2006, replacing Michael Anthony.
TMZ reports that Eddie Van Halen had been fighting cancer for more than a decade, and, over the last five years, had been traveling between the U.S. and Germany for radiation treatment.
A guitar virtuoso whose blinding speed, control and innovation propelled his band into one of hard rock’s biggest groups, became elevated to the status of rock god after Van Halen helped knock disco off the charts in the late 1970s.
The band, known for hits such as “Runnin’ with the Devil,” “Panama,” “Hot for Teacher” and “Jump,” formed in 1972 in Pasadena originally under the name “Genesis.” The members consisted of Eddie, brother and drummer Alex Van Halen, bassist Mark Stone – who would be replaced by Michael Anthony – and singer David Lee Roth.
Eddie Van Halen was something of a musical contradiction. He was an autodidact who could play almost any instrument, but he couldn’t read music. He was a classically trained pianist who also created some of the most distinctive guitar riffs in rock history. He was a Dutch immigrant who was considered one of the greatest American guitarists of his generation.
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 No. 8 in its list of the 100 greatest guitarists.
Eddie Van Halen is survived by his second wife Janie, brother Alex and son Wolfgang.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.