Legendary rock guitarist Eddie Van Halen dies of cancer aged 65

Revered rock guitarist Eddie Van Halen has died at the age of 65 following a battle with cancer, his son has said.

Mr Van Halen was part of the classic Van Halen line-up alongside his brother Alex, Michael Anthony on bass and David Lee Roth singing.

The band was hugely successful and has sold more than 80 million records worldwide.

In a statement shared on Twitter, Van Halen’s son, Wolfgang, said his father died on Tuesday.

He said: “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.”

Wolfgang, who became Van Halen’s bassist, added: “I love you so much, Pop.”

Geezer Butler, founder member of Black Sabbath, said: "Just when I thought 2020 couldn’t get any worse, I hear Eddie Van Halen has passed. So shocking- One of the nicest, down to Earth men I have ever met and toured with. A true gent and true genius. RIP. So sad. Thoughts go out to his brother Alex, and his family.”

The Twitter account of rock group Pantera tweeted Van Halen was a "tremendous influence" on their music.

It said: "RIP Eddie Van Halen. Van Halen were a tremendous influence on both Vinnie & Dime & Pantera. Hopefully they are all rocking out together now!"

Canadian rock band Nickelback described Van Halen as “perhaps one of the biggest inspirations ever to learn how to play guitar”.

They tweeted: “The world lost an icon, innovator, showman, virtuoso, master songwriter and perhaps one of the biggest inspirations ever to learn how to play guitar.

“Heartbroken to hear of Eddie Van Halen’s passing. Our love, condolences and best wishes to his his family, friends and fans. #RIP”.

Star Wars actor Mark Hamill sent his condolences to Wolfgang, adding: "But take solace in knowing that he will be long remembered and live on forever as one of Rock’s most extraordinary guitar virtuosos."

Van Halen was born in the Netherlands and raised in Pasadena, California.

He was a powerful creative force for the band as they blurred the line between hard rock and heavy metal.

Van Halen’s 1978 self-titled debut sold more than 10 million copies in the US alone and set the group on the road to super stardom.

They followed their debut with Van Halen II, Women And Children First, Fair Warning and Diver Down and by the mid-1980s were one of the most popular acts on the planet.

In 2015, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Van Halen eighth on their list of the 100 greatest guitar players of all time.

Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready penned a tribute at the time, and said: “A lot of it is in his hands: the way he holds his pick between his thumb and middle finger, which opens things up for his finger-tapping. (When I found out he played that way, I tried it myself, but it was too weird.)

"But underneath that, Eddie has soul. It’s like Hendrix – you can play the things he’s written, but there’s an X factor that you can’t get."

The band was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2007.