The co-founder of Van Halen rock band, Eddie Van Halen, died at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica at 65. The guitarist was reported to have died due to complications involving his throat cancer, which he has suffered from for over a decade.

Eddie’s son and costar, Wolfgang Van Halen, announced the news of his father’s passing on Twitter in a heartfelt statement. The portrayed a laughing Eddie and a typewritten note that read, “I can’t believe I’m having to write this, but my father, Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, has lost and arduous battle with cancer this morning,” he said. “He was the best father I could ever ask for. Every moment I shared with home on and off stage was a gift.” Wolfgang ended the letter with, “My heart is broken and I don’t think I’ll ever recover from this loss. I love you so much, pop.”

The photograph seemed appropriate given the late Van Halen’s reputation for putting the “smile back in rock guitar at a time when it was all getting a bit broody,” according to fellow musician Joe Satriani in an interview with Billboard. He noted Eddie’s incredible skill with the instrument.

The New York Times praised Van Halen’s live performances and went so far as to claim that he “structured his solos in roughly the same way Macy’s choreographs its Independence Day fireworks shows, shooting rockets of sound into the air that seemed to explode in a shower of light and color.”

The Dutch-Indonesian artist began the band with his siblings in the Netherlands back in the early 1970s. After several name changes, Van Halen grew to prominence in the 1980s, where they quickly moved up on billboard charts.

The famous guitarist leaves behind a wife, Janie Van Halen, his son, Wolfgang, and his brother, Alex Van Halen.

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