HEART‘s Nancy Wilson has reflected on the passing of Eddie Van Halen, saying he was “the sweetest soul” and “a genuine person.”
Wilson discussed her friendship with the innovative VAN HALEN guitarist, who died from cancer on October 6 at age 65, during an interview with Marci Wiser of the 95.5 KLOS radio station.
She said (hear audio below): “We were opening for VAN HALEN a few times, and whenever we were hanging out, me and Eddie were best friends. And one time he was telling me how much he really liked my acoustic guitar playing. And I said, ‘Why don’t you ever do that? You never play acoustic.’ And he goes, ‘I don’t really have one.’ And I’m, like, ‘What? Here’s one right now. Take this one.’ And so the next morning, it was the crack of dawn, my telephone in the hotel room rings, because there was [no cell phones back] in the day. But he said, ‘You’ve gotta hear this. I’ve been up all night.’ And he played me this most brilliant, gorgeous, kind of semi-classical rock kind of piece on acoustic. And I should have told him, ‘Make sure you record that somewhere.’ I don’t think he really ever did that. It might come out later somewhere. Who knows? But oh my God — it was chilling.”
Nancy continued: “He was the sweetest soul. Whether or not he was effed up or partying too much, or whatever was going on, which they all did, but he was just wonderful and sweet as they come. And sort of like the three-mile smile, you know… He was a genuine person. He was a good person. Nothing like you would think a hoity-toity rock star would be. Nothing like that.”
Eddie died at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, California. His wife, Janie, was by his side, along with his son, Wolfgang, and Alex, Eddie‘s brother and VAN HALEN drummer.
The iconic VAN HALEN axeman died from complications due to cancer, his son confirmed.
VAN HALEN was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2007.
Rolling Stone magazine ranked Eddie Van Halen No. 8 in its list of the 100 greatest guitarists.
After undergoing hip replacement surgery in 1999 due to a chronic joint problem, Eddie was diagnosed with mouth cancer in 2000 and had to have part of his tongue surgically removed. He later battled throat cancer and reportedly had been receiving radiation treatment in Germany. It is believed that his heavy smoking over the years led to his long battle with cancer.