Eddie Van Halen, a guitar virtuoso whose pyrotechnic riffs and solos expanded the vocabulary of hard rock, inspired legions of headbanging imitators and propelled his band Van Halen to four turbulent decades of stadium-rock stardom, died Oct. 6. He was 65.
His death was announced on Twitter by his son, Wolfgang, who did not say where Mr. Van Halen died. He was being treated for throat cancer, years after losing about one-third of his tongue to the disease, and had attributed his cancer diagnosis to a habit of holding a metal guitar pick in his mouth while performing.
He has always been one of my favorites. Everybody knows him as a ridiculously great soloist, but I’ve always loved his rhythm stuff just as much. And this is one of my favorite examples:
He just sounds so happy.
I saw them in 1988, during the Sammy Hagar years. Don’t remember much about it other than thinking “Who in their right mind would have the balls to play guitar on stage with Eddie Van Halen? And why bother? He can do it all by himself just fine.”