What Happened To Eddie Van Halen's Body After He Died?

On October 6, 2020, Eddie Van Halen died at the Providence St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica due to complications from cancer. While the world lost one of the greatest guitar players in history, his son Wolfgang Van Halen lost his father and best friend. "He was the best father I could ever ask for," Wolfgang wrote on Instagram announcing his father's passing. "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."

Following Eddie Van Halen's sad death, his family had his body cremated. The ashes went to Wolfgang, and he scattered the cremains in the Pacific Ocean off of Malibu per his father's instructions. But he didn't scatter all of the ashes — he had a necklace made that features his father's thumb print and contains some of his remains. "He's hanging on my neck," Wolfgang said in an episode of the television show "Behind the Music" (via People). This is just a part of the untold story of Wolfgang Van Halen, who first shared a stage with Eddie while still a teen and was at his father's side when he died.

Wolfgang Van Halen was with his father at the end

Eddie Van Halen formed Van Halen with his brother Alex on drums, singer David Lee Roth, and Michael Anthony on bass in 1974. They began to climb to the top of the rock charts in the ensuing years, with Eddie's unique guitar style taking center stage. He married the actor Valerie Bertinelli in 1981 (they divorced in 2007) and they had Wolfgang in 1991. Meanwhile, the band went through major changes during Van Halen's long line of messy breakups. Wolfgang joined the band in 2007, replacing Anthony on bass, when he was just 16. The band officially broke up following Eddie Van Halen's death.

The guitarist first developed tongue cancer in 2000 and had part of his tongue removed. Doctors deemed Eddie cancer free two years later, but in 2017 he developed stage 4 lung cancer, and in 2019 he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Wolfgang was by his side when he died. "I held my dad's hand," Wolfgang recalled in "Behind the Music." "I held it up to my face until he left. I felt the warmth of his hand on my face until I couldn't feel him anymore." Eddie's final words to his son were "I love you." 

The cause of death was a stroke, but he had several other contributing factors, including multiple cancers, pneumonia, and an erratic heartbeat (per WENN). Afterward, the family, including Bertinelli, had pizza — one of Eddie's favorite meals — in the hospital room to honor him.

Wolfgang keeps his father's ashes close to his heart

Twenty-two days after Eddie Van Halen's death, his family had his body cremated at LA's Forest Lawn Memorial Parks and Mortuaries. One of Eddie's final wishes was for his ashes to be scattered off the coast of Malibu, a place he loved — and where he used to live. It's unclear if he knew what Wolfgang Van Halen planned to do with part of his remains. Following the final breakup of Van Halen, Wolfgang has focused on his music career with his solo project Mammoth WVH. He released his second full-length album Mammoth II in 2023 and continues to tour extensively.

While Eddie Van Halen didn't live to see his son's success as a solo artist, he's on stage with his successor every time he performs — Wolfgang always wears the necklace with his father's ashes. "No matter what I do we're always together," Wolfgang said in "Behind the Music." He added: "His ashes are in here. ... Every show I've ever played — he's with me all the time no matter what. So even if I don't feel him spiritually I can get away with saying he's literally here with me at all times."