What's Come Out About Eddie Van Halen Since His Death

Eddie Van Halen's death on October 6, 2020, at the age of 65 marked the end of an era. Although it had been years since his eponymous band released an album's worth of material, Van Halen — both the man and his band alike — had forged such a legacy in rock in a career that had spanned close to five decades. If you've tried — and most likely failed — to replicate Eddie's incredible guitar solo in "Eruption," the opening track off Van Halen's 1978 self-titled debut, you know first-hand how innovative he was with his instrument. And that isn't even mentioning the scores of young musicians he influenced since Van Halen broke out in the mainstream with that first release of theirs. 

In the months that have passed since Van Halen's death, fellow musicians and fans alike have paid countless tributes and looked back on his band's incredible discography and fascinating (if oftentimes drama-filled) history. But there are several details about Eddie Van Halen that were only revealed, or only became widespread knowledge after his passing, even to hardcore fans. Let's take a closer look at some of those details.

Sammy Hagar and Eddie Van Halen reconciled before Eddie's death

In the days immediately following Eddie Van Halen's death, the big news was that former Van Halen singer Sammy Hagar, who had long been estranged from the axeman, quietly buried the hatchet with his ex-bandmate in early 2020. During an appearance on Howard Stern's SiriusXM show (via Blabbermouth), the Red Rocker opened up about how his relationship with Van Halen had become a "love fest" since they started texting each other again. He stressed that both of them wanted to keep things as quiet as possible because they didn't want to get fans' hopes up for a Van Halen reunion that was likely never going to happen.

Sadly, Hagar also talked about how Van Halen had apparently become too weak to reply to his texts during the final month of his life. "He stopped responding to me a month ago, and I figured it wasn't good," he said. "I reached out one more time last week, and when he didn't respond, I figured it was a matter of time. But it came way too soon."

Two months after his interview with Stern, Hagar spoke to Variety and dropped additional information on the bittersweet reconciliation with Van Halen. According to the veteran musician, comedian George Lopez helped the two get reconnected, as he was the one who gave Eddie's contact information to Hagar and informed him that the guitarist wanted to reach out.

Michael Anthony never resolved his issues with Eddie Van Halen

While it was good that Eddie Van Halen and Sammy Hagar were able to put the past behind them in the months leading to the guitarist's death, that sadly wasn't the case for former Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony, who last played with the band in 2004. As explained by Music Radar, Anthony supposedly had to sign away his rights to Van Halen's name and logo and take a pay cut in order to go on what would be his final tour with the group. Eddie had previously asserted that Anthony left the band of his own volition, but Anthony told Music Radar in 2009 that he "never quit."

In January 2021, Anthony appeared on the "Talkin' Rock with Meltdown" podcast (via Ultimate Classic Rock), revealing that he and Van Halen hadn't spoken for several years at the time of the latter's death. "It kind of bothers me, because we had some issues that were never resolved," he continued. "But, I mean, what can you do? We were on track [for] a reunion, which I'm really sad that it never happened. But, you know, life and the show goes on."

The reunion Anthony was referring to was the "Kitchen Sink Tour," an endeavor that was first cooked up in 2018 by Van Halen manager Irving Azoff. There were plans for Anthony and former vocalists Hagar and Gary Cherone to perform on the tour, though the shows never took place due to Eddie Van Halen's worsening health.

Eddie Van Halen's immediate cause of death

The fact Eddie Van Halen had battled different types of cancer for about two decades before his death was well-documented. Initial reports following his passing noted that he had died of throat cancer, and back in 2000, he was diagnosed with tongue cancer, a condition he blamed on his habit of holding metal guitar picks in his mouth, per Yahoo. However, TMZ obtained a copy of the guitarist's death certificate in December 2020, which revealed that his immediate cause of death was a stroke. He was also suffering from skin cancer of the head and the neck, as well as atrial fibrillation, which increases the risk of stroke by causing an irregular heartbeat. 

Given that TMZ also released certain information that was supposed to remain private, including plans for Eddie's memorial, the late rocker's son, Wolfgang Van Halen, took to social media to blast the publication for revealing such details without his family's permission. "If you f*** with my family, especially my father who is unable to defend himself, you f*** with me. It's my job to do so now and I'll never stop," he tweeted. "So if you've got a problem with that, you can either learn how to get over it or unfollow me." Strong words indeed, but completely understandable.

Eddie Van Halen's influence on his son's musical tastes

Van Halen and Mammoth WVH may have key members hailing from the same family, but they couldn't be more different in terms of sound. Still, it can be said that Mammoth WVH is one of a handful of proudly old-school rock acts in an era of music dominated by SoundCloud rap and indie pop, and it's not surprising that Wolfgang Van Halen picked up quite a lot from his old man in terms of musical influence — but not too much.

"He never really tried to push me into any direction," Wolfgang told Ultimate Classic Rock in November 2020. "I think the only thing he really introduced to me was AC/DC, the album 'Powerage' was a big bond for us. 'Down Payment Blues,' that was my dad's and my favorite song. But from there I kind of developed my own taste." That own taste, he explained, included the far more contemporary likes of Blink-182 and Tool, two bands that greatly helped the young musician learn how to play the drums as a secondary instrument to the guitar and bass.

Talking about Eddie Van Halen's frequent claim that Peter Gabriel's 1986 album "So" was the last record he had ever purchased, Wolfgang backed it up, telling Ultimate Classic Rock that Eddie loved the album so much that it was the only one he truly insisted his son should listen to. And it looks like Wolfgang feels the same way, as he considers "So" as one of his all-time favorite albums.

Eddie treated his signature guitar like a 'little piece of junk'

You would think that someone like Eddie Van Halen, a rock star with such a famous guitar, would have handled his iconic axe with the utmost care. Not true at all — according to his son, the rock legend apparently treated his "Frankenstrat" with the same cavalier recklessness many airport baggage handlers are notorious for. (Isn't that right, David Carroll of "United Breaks Guitars" fame?)

In a May 2021 interview with Guitar World, Wolfgang Van Halen revealed that he used his dad's Frankenstrat on a few of the tracks on his new band Mammoth WVH's self-titled debut album. He also shared that Eddie didn't exactly follow the usual best practices when handling his famous guitar. "When we were pulling it out of its safe, Dad picked it up and he was just noodling with it for a second," Wolfgang said. "He's like, 'Yeah, feels about the same,' and he tossed it onto the couch. Everyone just gasped when he did that. To Dad, it's just a little piece of junk that he built himself, but to us, it's the most famous thing in the world."

Despite the fact he briefly used the Frankenstrat on record, Wolfgang Van Halen emphasized that he didn't want to sound too much like his father when recording his band's debut, especially when it came to his choice of amps.