On Tuesday, TMZ reported that legendary guitarist Eddie Van Halen died at the age of 65. He was reportedly surrounded by his wife Janie, brother Alex, and son Wolfgang when he passed. As to what caused Van Halen's death, the musician had been in a lengthy battle with throat cancer, which he was originally diagnosed with over 20 years ago.
Shortly after Van Halen was diagnosed, doctors had to remove 1/3 of his tongue due to the illness. At times, doctors have also had to scrape cancer cells that had migrated down his throat. Over the past few years, he has been traveling back and forth between the United States and Germany to receive treatment for his diagnosis. Those treatments reportedly helped keep his condition in check. He was reportedly in and out of the hospital over the past year. In November, he was admitted into the hospital for intestinal issues and later received a round of chemotherapy. While he was receiving various treatments for throat cancer, the musician's health battle apparently took a turn for the worst over the last 72 hours. He died on Tuesday morning at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica.
Even though he was a heavy smoker, Van Halen believed that he developed cancer because he used to place metal guitar picks in his mouth during performances. In June 2015, during an interview with Billboard, he even spoke about his theory. “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.” SurvivorNet.com reported that it is unlikely that he developed cancer from placing metal guitar picks into his mouth. Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency don't classify copper or brass as carcinogenic to humans.
In light of the news of Van Halen's passing, many have taken to social media in order to mourn the late musician. His son, Wolfgang, even penned a heartfelt message on social media to pay tribute to his father. His message read, 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."