SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Music legend Eddie Van Halen, the guitar virtuoso whose blinding speed, control and innovation propelled his band Van Halen into one of hard rock’s biggest groups, fueled the unmistakable grinding solo in Michael Jackson’s hit “Beat It” and elevated him to the status of rock god, has died of throat cancer.
According to TMZ, which first broke the news, the Van Halen co-founder passed away Tuesday at St. Johns Hospital in Santa Monica, California.
Van Halen was 65.
His son, Wolf Van Halen, confirmed his father's death on Twitter.
"He was the best father I could ever ask for," Wolf Van Halen wrote. "Every moment I've shared with him on and off stage was a gift."
Actress Valerie Bertinelli, Wolf Van Halen's mother and Eddie Van Halen's ex-wife, responded to her son's tweet with broken hearts.
With his distinct solos, Eddie Van Halen fueled the ultimate California party band and helped knock disco off the charts starting in the late 1970s with his band’s self-titled debut album and then with the blockbuster record “1984," which contains the classics “Jump,” “Panama” and “Hot for Teacher.”
Van Halen is among the top 20 best-selling artists of all time and the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007, according to AP. Rolling Stone magazine put Eddie Van Halen at No. 8 in its list of the 100 greatest guitarists.
In Rolling Stone's 2015 poll of 100 greatest guitarists, Eddie Van Halen placed eighth, between Duane Allman and Chuck Berry, according to Variety. In that poll, Mike McCready of Pearl Jam wrote of Van Halen's solo in 1978's song "Eruption," “It sounded like it came from another planet…[I]t was glorious, like hearing Mozart for the first time.”
Other celebrities have also reacted to the death of the rock legend, including KISS' Gene Simmons.
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