Eddie Van Halen, the guitar virtuoso whose group is considered one of the greatest rock bands of all time, died on Tuesday following a long battle with cancer, aged 65. “He was the best father I could ever ask for,” his son said. Van Halen, born in 1955 in Amsterdam and raised in Pasadena, California, formed the band along with his brother Alex, bassist Michael Anthony and singer David Lee Roth in 1974, after the group met while attending Pasadena City College. It quickly earned a fan base. The group had multi-platinum albums in five consecutive years: Van Halen II (1979), Women and Children First (1980), Fair Warning (1981), Diver Down (1982) and finally their biggest hit, 1984.Among the group’s classics are “Jump,” “Panama,” “Runnin’ with the Devil,” and the guitar solo “Eruption.”
Van Halen has sold more than 75 million albums and has more number one hits on the mainstream US rock chart than any other artist. In 2015, Rolling Stone ranked him the eighth best guitar player of all time, between Chuck Berry and Duane Allman. Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready told Rolling Stone that Van Halen’s playing “sounded like it came from another planet … Van Halen underwent hip surgery in 1999 and had part of his tongue removed in 2000 after being diagnosed with cancer, likely because of heavy smoking.