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Eddie Van Halen

Eddie Van HalenAKA Edward Lodewijk Van Halen

Born: 26-Jan-1955
Birthplace: Nijmegen, Netherlands
Died: 6-Oct-2020
Location of death: Santa Monica, CA
Cause of death: Cancer - Throat

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Guitarist

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Guitarist for Van Halen

One of the best-known guitarists of the 80s and 90s, Edward Van Halen was spawned in the ancient, Roman-founded city of Nijmegen in Holland, but was primarily brought up in the rather less-ancient L.A. suburb of Pasadena, where his family chose to emigrate in 1962. Both he and his brother Alex Van Halen received training in classical piano as children, but it was ultimately rock music that won their interest, with Eddie deciding to channel his musical energies through the drums and Alex switching to the guitar. As it turned out, Alex -- who practiced on his brother's kit while Eddie was out delivering papers to pay for it -- developed faster as a drummer, motivating Eddie to turn his efforts to the guitar instead. Throughout high school and afterwards the brothers worked together in a series of groups, eventually forming Mammoth in the early 1970s. It was during this period that they came in contact with David Lee Roth, the vocalist for a band from which they occasionally rented a P.A.; deciding they would be better off with a full-time singer (Eddie having been filling this role with little enthusiasm), and impressed with Roth's skills, they lured him into their ranks. Not long afterward, bassist Michael Anthony was culled from another local band, cementing a line-up that would endure for the next ten years. Upon discovering that the name "Mammoth" was already taken, the four changed their name to Van Halen (apparently at Roth's suggestion) in 1974.

After spending the next year building up an audience on the local club circuit, Van Halen caught the attention of blood-spurting Kiss bassist Gene Simmons; impressed with the talent of Eddie and bandmates, he offered his services to produce a demo tape. That same year, a minion of the souless behemoth Warner Brothers also took an interest in the foursome, and within two shakes of a goat's tail a record deal was arranged. In 1978 their eponymous debut was released, strongly impacting the heavy metal scene and establishing Eddie as a guitar hero to countless uninspired teens. Five more albums with the Roth-fronted line-up followed over the next six years: Van Halen II (1979), Women and Children First (1980), Fair Warning (1981), Diver Down (1982), and the hugely successful 1984. By this time, however, relations between Van Halen and his vocalist had thoroughly disintegrated; the following year Roth moved on to a solo career, and a new frontman for the band -- former Montrose vocalist and solo performer Sammy Hagar -- was chosen.

With Hagar at the helm, Van Halen climbed even higher up the arena rock ladder, their new material appealing to a broader, pop audience. Hagar's tenure endured slightly longer than Roth's, yet only resulted in five albums (5150 (1986), OU812 (1988), For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge (1991), Balance (1995), plus a 1993 live album). The defining moment for this period of the band was the shameful, career-boosting sell-out of their song Right Now to the Pepsi corporation, a move that seriously damaged their credibility with many of their older fans. By 1996 the guitarist once again found himself at odds with his vocalist, and Hagar departed amongst rumors of David Lee Roth returning to the microphone stand. Roth did in fact add his voice to two new songs for a Greatest Hits collection, but the idea of a full-time reunion quickly went south, ending in a public exchange of insults through the music press. In the wake of this non-reunion, a third vocalist was picked: Gary Cherone, lately of the band Extreme. With this line-up (the least popular to date), Van Halen managed only to produce the 1998 effort Van Halen III. Following Cherone's quick exit, the Roth reunion rumors re-surfaced, but once again to no outcome.

During the peak years of his celebrity, Edward Van Halen dutifully pursued the expected lifestyle, turning himself into a first-class alcoholic along the way. After his marriage to actress Valerie Bertinelli in 1980, and particularly after the birth of his son a year later, the guitarist began the struggle to get control of his addiction, but not soon enough to avoid serious health consequences. One of the more dramatic consequences was a degenerative condition that required the replacement of his right hip in 1999. By 2000 he was faced with an even more serious procedure involving the removal of a cancerous tumor from his tongue. It was subsequently reported in 2002 that he was free from the cancer, but the impact upon his health continued to create an obstacle to his musical activity, putting his band out of commission for several years. In 2004 Van Halen finally resumed active duty, going out on the road once again with vocalist Sammy Hagar.

Father: Jan Van Halen (b. 1920, d. 1986)
Mother: Eugenia van Beers (b. 1914, d. 2005)
Brother: Alex Van Halen (drummer for Van Halen)
Wife: Valerie Bertinelli (actress, m. 11-Apr-1981, sep. 2002, div. 20-Dec-2007)
Son: Wolfgang Van Halen (guitarist for Van Halen, b. 16-Mar-1991)
Wife: Janie Liszewski (m. 27-Jun-2009, until his death)

    Van Halen Guitarist (1974-)
    unknown detox facility
    Hip Replacement Surgery 1999
    Risk Factors: Alcoholism, Smoking, Throat Cancer

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