Eddie Van Halen, the guitarist and songwriter who helped give the radio-rock band Van Halen its name and sound, died Tuesday after a battle with cancer. He was 65.
His death was announced by his son, Wolf Van Halen, on Twitter.
"I can't believe I'm having to write this," the statement said, "but my father, Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, has lost his long and arduous battle with cancer this morning. He was the best father I could ever ask for. Every moment I've shared with him on and off stage was a gift."
In a band known for its instability—due in part to a rotating cast of lead singers that most notably includes David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar—Eddie Van Halen and his brother Alex remained constants, appearing on 12 studio albums that reached across five decades and sold tens of millions of copies.
No matter the singer, Eddie Van Halen's high-flying guitar sound—heavy on tapping, with both hands on the neck of the instrument—was deeply influential, but also hard to imitate. He grew up obsessed with Eric Clapton, only to himself become a lodestar for generations of guitarists.