Rock legend Eddie Van Halen — the guitar god known for his astounding solos and superstar band — died Tuesday after a long battle with cancer, his family said.
The iconic Dutch-born rock-and-roll virtuoso was 65.
“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,’’ said the musician’s son, Wolfgang, who is the band Van Halen’s bassist, on Instagram.
“He was the best father I could ever ask for,” the 29-year-old son said. “I love you so much, Pop.”
Van Halen passed away at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, Calif. — surrounded by his son, wife Janie, ex-wife Valerie Bertinelli and brother Alex, who is the drummer in the band, TMZ reported.
The rocker — a former longtime heavy smoker who was first diagnosed with mouth cancer in 2000 and shortly after had a third of his tongue removed — suddenly went down hill a few days ago, sources told the site.
Van Halen once said he was the perfect example of an immigrant living the American dream.
He was born in the Netherlands and came to the US with his family in 1962 at age 7.
Ten years later, he and his brother formed Van Halen along with vocalist David Lee Roth and bassist Michael Anthony.
For nearly the next five decades, the group broke rock-music records, selling 80 million records worldwide and joining the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.
Their hits included “Jump,” “Hot for Teacher,” “Running with the Devil” and “Panama” — with the then-shaggy-haired, goofy-grinning Eddie leading the way on guitar.
“I don’t know s–t about scales or music theory,” Eddie told Rolling Stone in 1980. “I don’t want to be seen as the fastest guitar in town, ready and willing to gun down the competition.
“All I know is that rock & roll guitar, like blues guitar, should be melody, speed, and taste, but more important, it should have emotion. I just want my guitar playing to make people feel something: happy, sad, even horny.”
Eddie made a name for himself particularly as a masterful innovative player, using amps, pedals and other effects to elevate the genre.
He is widely recognized for popularizing the two-handed tapping method, in which both hands are used to tap on the fretboard.
He even held a US patent — for a “musical instrument support’’ device that freed up his hands so he could use both to achieve the effect.
“You were the Mozart of rock guitar,’’ Motley Crue bassist Nikki Sixx tweeted of Eddie on Tuesday.
After Eddie developed cancer, he claimed that he thought he got it from holding metal picks in his mouth, TMZ reported last year, citing sources.
The rocker spent several years flying back and forth from the US to Germany for treatment.
Eddie was married twice, first to “One Day at a Time” TV actress Bertinelli in 1981, with whom he had Wolfgang. After their divorce in 2007, he married Jane Liszewski in 2008.
Bertinelli, 60, tweeted a long string of broken hearts Tuesday under her Twitter handle, @Wolfiesmom.
In a statement Tuesday, the Recording Academy saluted Grammy-winning Eddie for his contributions “to some of the world’s most iconic music.”
“His explosive guitar playing and approach to the musical process solidified him as an undeniable force in his field and forever established his place as a true guitar hero,” said academy chair & interim president/CEO Harvey Mason Jr. “The world is lucky to have witnessed Eddie’s genius as a guitarist, and we know he will influence and shape rock music indefinitely.”
Eddie’s career was marked by experimentation and collaboration, including when he played a solo on Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” in 1982, and contributed to albums by musicians such as Queen’s Brian May, LL Cool J and Sammy Hagar — who would later join the band from 1985 through 1996, followed by a two-year reunion in 2003.
“Heartbroken and speechless. My love to the family,” Hagar tweeted Tuesday after learning of Eddie’s death.
Besides being a guitar legend Eddie also was legendary for a quirky piece of rock folklore. In the 1980s Van Halen inserted a clause into a tour rider that required a candy bowl containing M&Ms be placed backstage — but containing “absolutely no brown ones,” in order to make sure promoters were paying attention to the pages-long document.
The guitar guru was even name-checked for his finger work in 1989’s “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.” In one scene, the movie’s namesake dudes, played by Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves, talked about adding Eddie to their band, Wyld Stallions, in order to make a most excellent music video.
“Ted, while I agree that in time our band will be most triumphant, the truth is Wyld Stallions will never be a super band until we have Eddie Van Halen on guitar,” said Winter’s Bill, leading to a nonsensical discussion about bringing him on board.
Producer Ed Solomon tweeted Tuesday that he even attempted to get Eddie for a cameo in the 2020 sequel, “Bill & Ted Face the Music,” but was told “he was unavailable” for reasons unknown. “Sadly, I think I know now,” he said.
Additional reporting by Kate Sheehy