Saturday Night Live included two tributes to Eddie Van Halen this weekend, in its first episode since the rock 'n roll legend passed away. Van Halen died on Oct. 6, 2020 due to complications with throat cancer. SNL and this week's host, Bill Burr, honored him during the show.
Fans noted the first nod to Van Halen during one of the transitions between commercial breaks. After flashing a title card with Burr on it, the screen cut to a highlight from Van Halen's performance as the musical guest on SNL back in 1987. Facing the camera for one triumphant shot, Van Halen played with blinding speed, tapping the fretboard with both hands. Later on as the episode was ending, Burr shouted the rock legend out before the credits rolled. "Rest in peace Eddie Van Halen!" he called as the camera panned away.
Fans were touched by these little gestures for Van Halen, who was a musical and cultural icon for decades. This week's musical guest, Jack White, had a subtle tribute for Van Halen as well. For his second performance of the night, White played on a distinct blue guitar, which he explained on Instagram was an Eddie Van Halen model.
Van Halen's son, Wolfgang Van Halen was the first to publicly confirm his passing last week. In a heartfelt post on Twitter, he wrote: "I can't believe I'm having to write this, but my father, Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, has lost his long and arduous battle with cancer this morning. 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."
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i thought it could be a nice gesture for me to use this blue eddie van halen model guitar for one of the songs tonight on SNL. the guitar was designed by eddie (with a few customizations i had added). eddie was very kind to me and saw to it that this guitar was made for me to my specs. i wont even insult the man’s talent by trying to play one of his songs tonight. thanks again eddie for this guitar and rest in peace sir.
Van Halen had a slew of health problems over the last three decades, many stemming from his history with substance abuse and addiction. In 2007, his ex-wife Valerie Bertinelli even cited his addictions as a big reason for their split. He recovered from tongue cancer in 2002, but in 2019 he revealed that the cancer had reared its head again five years previous.
Van Halen passed away in Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California, with his son, his wife and his brother by his side. Fans are still grieving and sending their love to his family on social media, and many are reliving his greatest performances as well.