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article imageRock legend Eddie Van Halen dies after long battle with cancer

By Jocelyne ZABLIT (AFP)     Oct 6, 2020 in World

Eddie Van Halen, of the legendary hard rock group that bore his family name, died on Tuesday following a long battle with cancer, his son announced.

"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," Wolf Van Halen wrote in a message on Twitter with a picture of the rocker who was 65.

"He was the best father I could ever ask for," he added. "Every moment I've shared with him on and off stage was a gift.

"My heart is broken and I don't think I'll ever fully recover from this loss. I love you so much, Pop."

Born in the Netherlands and raised in California, Van Halen founded the rock group with his older brother Alex in the 1970s and quickly earned a fan base.

The group, regarded as of one the most influential American rock groups of all time, is known for such classics as "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, according to the band's label.

Van Halen's 1984 album "1984" was to be the band's high point, giving them their only number one single "Jump."

- 'Didn't drink to party' -

The creative tension within the band boiled over during the "1984" tour, with Eddie Van Halen and original frontman David Lee Roth falling out. Roth left the band in April 1985.

One of his gripes with Eddie Van Halen was reportedly his outside work that included performing on Michael Jackson's 1983 single "Beat It."

However, Van Halen announced a reunion tour in 2007 with Roth performing with the group for the first time in 22 years.

Another tour planned in 2012 had to be cancelled after Eddie Van Halen had to undergo emergency surgery.

But the band reunited again in 2015 for an extensive North American tour.

Eddie Van Halen was known to have health problems that would interfere with his work for years.

He underwent hip surgery in 1999 and had part of his tongue removed in 2000 after being diagnosed with lung cancer, likely because of heavy smoking.

His drug abuse and heavy drinking contributed to his 2007 divorce from TV actress Valerie Bertinelli after 16 years of marriage.

"I was an alcoholic, and I needed alcohol to function," he said in a 2015 interview with Billboard magazine.

"I didn't drink to party. Alcohol and cocaine were private things to me. I would use them for work. The blow keeps you awake and the alcohol lowers your inhibitions. I'm sure there were musical things I would not have attempted were I not in that mental state."

Eddie Van Halen is survived by his second wife Janie Liszewski and his son.

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