Obituary: Eddie Van Halen

Eddie Van Halen, considered one of rock music’s greatest guitar players and a founding member of the hugely successful rock band named after him and his drummer brother, has died of cancer at the age of 65.

Born in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in 1955, Van Halen’s family emigrated to the United States in 1962.

His father was a big band clarinettist who rarely found work after coming to the US, and his mother was a maid who had dreams of her sons being classical pianists.

Eddie Van Halen and his brother Alex joined with vocalist David Lee Roth and bassist Michael Anthony to form Van Halen in 1974, in Pasadena, California.

He was a relentless experimenter who would solder different parts from different guitar-makers, including Gibson and Fender.

He created his own graphic design for his guitars by adding tape to the instruments and then spray-painting them. He said his influences were Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix.

Eddie Van Halen was something of a musical contradiction. He taught himself to play almost any instrument, but he could not read music.

He was a classically trained pianist who also created some of the most distinctive guitar riffs in rock history.

Eddie Van Halen also played guitar on one of the biggest singles of the 1980s — Michael Jackson’s Beat It — via ABC News

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