The death of legendary guitarist Eddie Van Halen shook up the music world, leading to tributes from the likes of Tom Morello, Robb Flynn and Pete Townsend. The performer’s cause of death has now been revealed as a cerebrovascular event, such as a stroke, with pneumonia, the blood disorder myelodysplastic syndrome and lung cancer listed as underlying causes. As BlabberMouth points out, Van Halen also had a squamous cell carcinoma, more commonly known as skin cancer of the head and neck, and atrial fibrillation, which causes irregular heartbeat and increases the risk of a stroke.
Van Halen had been battling cancer for several years, however his condition was reportedly getting worse during his last year. In November of 2019 it was reported that he had a severe reaction to cancer medication and his bandmate David Lee Roth reported that Van Halen was “not doing well” back in January of this year.
His son and Van Halen bandmate Wolfgang discussed his condition during an appearance on The Howard Stern Show last month. The bassist explained that his father was given only six weeks to live in 2017, but managed to fight through the condition using alternative cancer treatments. “Whatever the fuck they do over there, it’s amazing because I got three more years with him,” Wolfgang explained.
During Eddie Van Halen’s 46 years with the band, he helped form a distinct guitar sound that came to define the hard rock sound of the 1970s and 1980s. He was named as the eighth best guitarist of all time by Rolling Stone.