The year 2020 has been a rough one for all of us, but especially for members of the music world with some of the biggest names in music passing on.

On October 6, guitar legend and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Eddie Van Halen died as a result of throat cancer in Santa Monica, California at the age of 65.

Born in the Netherlands, the guitar virtuoso spawned generations of budding guitar players.  Twelve of the bands 13 albums went multi-platinum with two of those being certified with Diamond Awards for selling at least 10 million copies in the United States.

Van Halen and his band mates of Van Halen helped to propel the hair bands of the 80’s to the top of the charts.  His solos were unmistakable and immediately recognizable.  Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue called Van Halen, “the Mozart of rock guitar”.

 He was also classically trained on the piano…but never learned to read music.

Van Halen, brother Alex, David Lee Roth, and Michael Anthony formed Van Halen in 1974 as Mammoth.  But after discovering that a band by that name already existed, they changed the name to Van Halen.  The band released their self titled debut album in 1978.

Van Halen did not reserve his virtuosity just for the band; it was his guitar fans heard on the Michael Jackson smash hit “Beat It”.  He received no compensation or credit for his 30 minutes of work.

His music appeared in over 100 film and television productions including “Family Guy”, “Despicable Me 3”, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”, “Minions”, “Glee”, “South Park”, “The Green Hornet”, “Two and a Half Men”, “Mission to Mars”, “Twister”, “Back to the Future”, and “WKRP in Cincinnati”.

Along with the numerous music videos that Van Halen appeared in; he also made acting appearances in “Two and a Half Men”, “Café Americain”, “Frasier”, and on late night television shows.

He was born Edward Lodewijk Van Halen on January 26, 1955 in Nijmegen, Netherlands.  The family immigrated to the United States when a young Eddie was just seven years old.  His father played clarinet in a big band before coming to America.  Van Halen noted that they traveled halfway around the world with $50 and a piano with no job prospects, housing, or knowing how to speak English. 

It was a young Eddie who received a drum set and Alex got the guitar, but Alex so loved the drums that Eddie ended up with the guitar.  Van Halen cited Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix as his influences.

Van Halen is survived by his second wife Jane and son Wolfgang.

Feature photo credit: By Carl Lender – Flickr: Eddie Van Halen, CC BY 2.0,