Musicians and stars pay tribute to Eddie Van Halen, 'the Mozart of rock guitar'
The music community and stars across the entertainment industry are paying tribute to rock legend Eddie Van Halen, who died Tuesday at age 65 after a battle with cancer.
"Heartbroken and speechless. My love to the family," Van Halen's former bandmate Sammy Hagar wrote on Twitter, alongside a photo of himself with the guitarist.
David Lee Roth, lead singer of Van Halen from 1974 to 1985, posted a backstage of himself with the guitarist, captioning the tweet, "What a Long Great Trip It's Been.."
Many of Van Halen's fellow musicians and rockers also paid tribute. "Just when I thought 2020 couldn't get any worse, I hear Eddie Van Halen has passed. So shocking," wrote Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler. "One of the nicest, down to Earth men I have ever met and toured with. A true gent and true genius. RIP. So sad. Thoughts go out to his brother Alex, and his family."
"I was heartbroken to hear the news of EVH’s passing," Styx frontman Tommy Shaw said in a statement. "A genius musician and quite an interesting personality. I first met him when we shared a dressing room with them in Germany for a TV music show there in the '70s. Van Halen was new and ascending, and I observed him practicing his amazing guitar riffs in a style I’d never seen before. His style influenced a new generation of shredders. It was sad to hear about his health struggles, but always seemed to overcome them. Thank you Eddie for the incredible gifts of your music and live performances. History and music fans will remember and cherish you with the highest esteem."
Several similarly expressed their awe and admiration for Van Halen's innovative guitar playing. "RIP Eddie Van Halen," wrote Madonna's longtime guitarist Monte Pittman. "His technique, his sound, and his songs changed the shape of music. He was an inspiration to every guitar player taking things to a new level. The music world will never be the same but he leaves a legacy that will live forever."
In an interview with EW, filmmaker Robert Rodriguez reminisced about Van Halen and his iconic Frankenstrat guitar. "I saw Van Halen when they toured in San Antonio," Rodriguez said. "I even have one of his replica guitars. I think they made only 300. He’s good friends with my friend George Lopez. I was going to meet him with George to sign the guitar and then he got ill. What I love about him is that he’s such an icon. He’s got his guitar that he built himself. It’s an iconic feature. It’d be like if I built my own camera and influenced so many people with an art piece I used every time afterward.”
Van Halen's friend Kenny Chesney posted a lengthy statement on Twitter, recalling his experience performing with the guitarist. "He was a friend and and a hero to anyone who has ever picked up a guitar and had a dream," Chesney wrote. "Eddie and his brother Alex joined us on stage at one of our stadium shows in Los Angeles and it was one of the highlights of my touring life in all my summers on the road. I will never forget that night and how happy we both were that our musical paths crossed that night on stage. Rest In Peace to the best guitar player that ever lived."
And actress Valerie Bertinelli, Van Halen's ex-wife and the mother of his son Wolfgang, shared a moving message to her ex-husband on Twitter. "40 years ago my life changed forever when I met you," Bertinelli wrote. "You gave me the one true light in my life, our son, Wolfgang. Through all your challenging treatments for lung cancer, you kept your gorgeous spirit and that impish grin. I'm so grateful Wolfie and I were able to hold you in your last moments. I will see you in our next life my love."
See more tributes to Van Halen below.
Additional reporting by Omar Sanchez.