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Eddie Van Halen dead at age 65 after fight with cancer, son says

LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 17: (L-R) Drummer Alex Van Halen, singer David Lee Roth and guitarist Eddie Van Halen of Van Halen perform during the 2015 Billboard Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 17, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Eddie Van Halen, a songwriter and the founder of the band Van Halen, has died at the age of 65 after what his family described as a “long and arduous battle with cancer.” 

In a tweet announcing the death, Van Halen’s son with actress Valerie Bertinelli, Wolfgang, described the rocker as the best father he could have asked for. 

Born January 26, 1955 in Amsterdam, Van Halen started learning to play piano at age 6. The family moved to Pasadena, California in 1962, just a month after his 7th birthday. 

He never learned to read music, instead playing by ear and sometimes improvising even classical works. He later learned to play drums, but switched to guitar. 

Eddie and brother Alex Van Halen formed their first band when Eddie Van Halen was still in the fourth grade, performing concerts at the elementary school he attended during lunchtime. They formed a different band in their teens, which then became Van Halen in 1974. 

The brothers and their band quickly became well known throughout Los Angeles with performances in the mid-1970s. That led to a recording contract offer in 1977 from Warner Bros. 

Their debut album, Van Halen, reached No. 19 on Billboard’s pop music chart and the band’s popularity continued to grow into the 1980s. Their album 1984 included the band’s only number 1 pop hit, “Jump.” 

Eddie Van Halen and the rest of the band were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.