Legendary guitarist Eddie Van Halen has died at the age of 65 following a decades-long battle with cancer. According to TMZ, Van Halen was first diagnosed with throat cancer over 20 years ago. As for what he believed caused the illness, the musician's theory was that he developed throat cancer because he used to place his metal picks in his mouth during performances.
In June 2015, Van Halen told Billboard his theory as to why he developed throat cancer over two decades ago. "I used metal picks — they're brass and copper — which I always held in my mouth, in the exact place where I got the tongue cancer," he told the outlet. "Plus, I basically live in a recording studio that's filled with electromagnetic energy. So that's one theory. I mean, I was smoking and doing a lot of drugs and a lot of everything. But at the same time, my lungs are totally clear. This is just my own theory, but the doctors say it's possible." As SurvivorNet.com noted, it is unlikely that the guitarist could have developed throat cancer from placing metal picks into his mouth. They noted that both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency do not classify copper or metals in brass as carcinogenic to humans.
In October 2019, TMZ reported that Van Halen was diagnosed with throat cancer about 20 years prior. During his battle with the illness, there were times when cancer cells migrated down his throat, which doctors would have to scrape out. In 2000, shortly after he received his diagnosis, Van Halen had 1/3 of his tongue removed. The guitarist was reportedly flying between the United States and Germany to receive radiation treatment over the last few years, which was said to have been working to keep his condition in check.
On Tuesday, Van Halen passed away after battling cancer for over two decades. Over the past 72 hours, his battle with the illness went massively downhill. Doctors discovered that his cancer had spread to his brain and other organs. He died on Tuesday morning at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica with his wife Janie, brother Alex, and son Wolfgang by his side. Following the news of his passing, Wolfgang took to social media to share a moving tribute to his late father. He wrote, in part, "He was the best father I could ever ask for. Every moment I've shared with him on and off stage was a gift. My heart is broken and I don't think I'll ever fully recover from this loss. I love you so much, Pop."