Eddie Van Halen — the all-time great guitar virtuoso who redefined the instrument with his namesake band, Van Halen — has died following a long battle with throat cancer. He was 65. The news was confirmed by his son, Wolfgang Van Halen.
"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," Wolfgang wrote on Twitter.
"He was the best father I could ever ask for. Every moment I've shared with him on and off stage was a gift ... I love you so much, Pop."
"Ed's a once- or twice-in-a-century kind of guy. There's Hendrix and there's Eddie Van Halen," Alice in Chains' Jerry Cantrell said of his friend last year. "Those two guys tilted the world on its axis."
In addition to Cantrell and, of course, Pantera shredder and Van Halen superfan Dimebag Darrell, Eddie was a massive influence on generations of guitar players and rock musicians. As such, news of his passing was met with a cavalcade of tributes across social media.
"I'm just devastated to hear the news of the passing of my dear friend Eddie Van Halen," Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi tweeted. "He fought a long and hard battle with his cancer right to the very end. Eddie was one of a very special kind of person, a really great friend. Rest In Peace my dear friend till we meet again." Anthrax's Scott Ian shared a memory on Instagram: "A few years ago at NAMM I told him, 'I stopped playing an amp with my name on it to play one with yours!' Eddie laughed, 'Same amps and same shirts!' He was always the coolest." "Edward Van Halen was the single reason I ever wanted to play guitar to begin with," Lamb of Gods' Mark Morton wrote. "He's the worlds greatest guitar hero, inspiring generations of players to pick up the instrument we love so dearly. Thank you so much for the music and inspiration. We love you forever Eddie." Meanwhile, the official Pantera Twitter account shared a photo of Eddie with Dimebag and Vinnie Paul, along with the caption: "RIP Eddie Van Halen. Van Halen were a tremendous influence on both Vinnie & Dime & Pantera. Hopefully they are all rocking out together now!"
Van Halen is survived by his wife, Janie Van Halen; son, Wolfgang; and brother, Alex.