How Did Eddie Van Halen Die? The Legend’s Long Health Battle

how did eddie van halen die image of eddie van halen on stage in 2015
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Last updated on September 7th, 2023 at 01:45 am

Eddie Van Halen was an inspiration to guitarists and musicians worldwide. With his signature style and classic guitar solos, such as for Van Halen’s very own “Eruption” in 1978 or Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” in 1982, he has gone down in history as one of the greatest musicians in the world.

It broke the hearts of many when years of struggle with his health ultimately led to his death in 2020.

What was Eddie Van Halen’s illness, and how did Eddie Van Halen die? Find out the answers to these questions and more below about perhaps the best guitar player in the history of rock music.

david lee roth with eddie von halen singing on stage
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​​How Did Eddie Van Halen Die? 

Eddie Van Halen’s cause of death was a stroke. 

The stroke came after years of health battles that all began from his years of drugs and alcohol, which started when he was 12 years old. 

It would take 40 years for him to finally enter rehab, announcing his intent to get sober in the wake of Van Halen’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. Eight years later, he would reveal in an interview that he has remained sober since 2008. 

Despite his later attempts to get sober, his years of abuse of drugs and alcohol still caught up with him. In 2000, he developed tongue cancer and eventually had to have surgery to remove a third of his tongue in 2002. Van Halen himself, however, didn’t declare drugs and smoking to be the cause. 

“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.”

The tongue cancer was not his only battle with the disease. In 2014, he was diagnosed with throat cancer, although the struggle was not revealed to fans until 2019, when he was hospitalized. 

His battles with cancer are ultimately what caused Van Halen’s stroke. The throat cancer, lung cancer (a fact that was only revealed by his ex-wife Valerie Bertinelli in an Instagram post after his death), pneumonia, and myelodysplastic syndrome all played a role in the life-ending stroke. 

His other health issues throughout his life included his suffering from a bone tissue disorder known as chronic avascular necrosis, a hip replacement surgery in 1999, and emergency surgery to treat diverticulitis in 2012. 

Related: The 16 Greatest Guitar Players of All-Time

When Did Eddie Van Halen Die? 

Eddie Van Halen died on Oct. 6, 2020. 

How Old Was Eddie Van Halen When He Died? 

Eddie Van Halen’s death age was only 65 years old.

Who Was at Eddie Van Halen’s Bedside When He Died? 

Eddie Van Halen got the kind of last moments anyone would dream of as his closest family surrounded him during his final moments.

His son, Wolfgang Van Halen, spent every day with his father throughout his final weeks in the hospital. In his last moments, Eddie Van Halen’s wife of more than 10 years, Janie Liszewski, his ex-wife and mother of his son, Valerie Bertinelli, and his brother, Alex Van Halen, all surrounded their beloved family member.

Related: Wolfgang Van Halen: The Huge Career of Eddie Van Halen’s Son

flowers with eddie von halens name on it after he died
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What Were Eddie Van Halen’s Last Words? 

Eddie Van Halen kept his final sentiments nice and straightforward before his death. What did Eddie Van Halen say to Valerie Bertinelli before he died? 

The One Day at a Time actress revealed a little more than a year after his death that the “316” guitarist simply told her and their son, “I love you,” before taking his last breath. The details are included in her memoir, Enough Already: Learning to Love the Way I Am Today (2022). 

“‘I love you’ are the last words Ed says to Wolfie and me, and they are the last words we say to him before he stops breathing,” Bertinelli writes, noting that prior she told him, “Maybe next time. Maybe next time, we’ll get it right.” 

The memoir also talks of the moment her son called her, asking her to come to the hospital on the day of Eddie Van Halen’s death, and more moments shared leading up to his death. 

Related: Valerie Bertinelli’s Net Worth: Her Big Life as Van Halen’s Ex

What Did David Lee Roth Say About Eddie Van Halen? 

Just like Eddie Van Halen’s family shared meaningful tributes following the rocker’s death, so did his fellow Van Halen bandmates. Original lead singer David Lee Roth simply posted a black and white photo of the pair of them together with the simple caption, “What a Long Great Trip It’s Been.”

Sammy Hagar, the band’s lead vocalist following Roth’s exit in 1985, also shared a tribute saying, “Heartbroken and speechless. My love to the family. Whether you were blessed to have known him or not, He was a kind and gentle soul… His impact on ALL our lives was immeasurable!”

Further, Gary Cherone, who also provided lead vocals for the band over the years, wrote, “His music, eternal! My deepest sympathies to the Van Halen family … Love you, Ed. #LongLiveTheKing!”

What Was Eddie Van Halen’s Net Worth When He Died? 

Eddie Van Halen’s net worth at his death had accrued to approximately $100 million thanks to his time with Van Halen, endorsements, companies, and more.

Who Inherited Eddie Van Halen’s Net Worth

Eddie Van Halen’s estate went to his son, Wolfgang Van Halen, and his second wife, Jane Liszewski. Wolfgang and Liszewski were also the answer to the question of who did Eddie Van Halen leave his money to.

His estate included all his property, assets, and collection of musical instruments. Liszewski was also granted control over the rights of the use of his image and likeness. 

Many believe his brother, Alex Van Halen, and his ex-wife Valerie Bertinelli also received part of his estate, but that has never been confirmed. 

eddie van halen on stage with his son wolfgang van halen
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Who Owns the Rights to Van Halen Music? 

Five years before Eddie Van Halen’s untimely death, he and his brother, Alex Van Halen, the co-founder and original drummer for the legendary rock group, signed a deal with Atlas Music Group, giving the latter the publishing rights to the band’s entire catalog of music.

The only album excluded was the band’s last, A Different Kind of Truth, released in 2012.  

By the “Hot for Teacher” guitarist’s 2020 death, that deal did not change. 

Where is Eddie Van Halen Buried? 

Although not much is known about the Eddie Van Halen funeral, we do know quite a bit about his final resting place.

At Eddie Van Halen’s request, he was cremated. The cremation came more than three weeks after his death on Oct. 28, 2020.

Where are Eddie Van Halen’s ashes? Following the cremation, Van Halen’s ashes were given to his son, Wolfgang Van Halen, and then possibly scattered off the coast of the late multi-instrumentalist’s Malibu home as per his wishes. 

Considering Wolfgang Van Halen’s touching tribute to his dad on social media following his death, we’d say it’s safe to say he did just as his father wanted. 

“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,” the Mammoth singer and former bassist for Van Halen wrote on his Instagram. “He was the best father I could ever ask for. I love you so much, Pop.” 

eddie van halen wearing sunglasses
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Eddie Van Halen’s Legacy

Along with going down in history as one of the most influential and greatest guitarists of all time, Eddie Van Halen also made a mark as a man with a big heart. 

In February of 2017, he made sure that young students could have the chance to experience the same joy in music that he had by donating 75 guitars to the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, which gifts instruments of all kinds to students attending low-income schools. Every guitar Van Halen donated came from his personal collection. 

His legacy is also seen in the tribute made following his death. Thanks to the Pasadena Library, several archives and documents about Eddie Van Halen have been released, and fans can also listen to his entire musical catalog with Van Halen on Hoopla. 

During the 2020 Billboard Music Awards, several artists who worked with Van Halen over the years gave tribute speeches, including Jack White of The White Stripes, Dierks Bentley, Anthrax’s Charlie Benante, and G.E. Smith. That same night, Wolfgang Van Halen shared several of his favorite photos of himself with his father. 

Just a few days after his death, there was also a tribute made on Saturday Night Live, showing a clip of Van Halen and G.E. Smith performing together in February 1987. Valerie Bertinelli hosted the show that night. 

Two years after his death, the Red Hot Chili Peppers also paid tribute with a song called “Eddie” on their Return of the Dream Canteen album (2022). 

None of these tributes, however, compare to the announcement made by his son on The Howard Stern Show on Nov. 16, 2020, during which he proclaimed that Van Halen would officially disband. 

“You can’t have Van Halen without Eddie Van Halen.” 

All we can say is that as much as we miss the legendary rock music that still plays in our hearts by this American rock band, we couldn’t agree more with Wolfgang’s sentiments. Eddie Van Halen was the key to Van Halen, one of the greatest rock bands ever. 

May he always rest in peace. 

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Written by Katie Peterson

Katie Peterson received her bachelor's degree in English from the University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth in 2015. She has worked in journalism since 2015, beginning as production assistant and eventual head staff writer of the Fort Leavenworth Lamp newspaper in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Currently, she is a multimedia journalist with the Diocese of Nashville's Office of Media and Evangelization where she writes, does photography, and edits for several types of content, including the Tennessee Register, Catholic Awakenings, and She has also worked as a freelance journalist with the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas's newspaper, The Leaven, since 2016.
In her spare time, Peterson enjoys reading, spending time with her pup, Sadie Lynn, singing and songwriting.


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