Eddie Van Halen died on Tuesday after a long struggle with cancer and tributes to the beloved guitarist instantly began rolling in on social media, many from the guitarists and bassists that surfaced in his wake and continued to push forth the form. Flea, Lenny Kravitz, Pantera, and Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello have weighed in with kind words, as have Van Halen’s contemporaries, including KISS’s Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, Billy Idol, and Mötley Crüe’s Nikki Sixx.
The Who’s Pete Townshend spoke to Rolling Stone about Van Halen’s legacy. “It’s completely tragic that we have lost him,” he said. “He was not just an innovative and stylish player with great taste, he was also a laidback virtuoso showman who just blew us all away every time. Every shredder today has lost their Master Teacher and Guide.”
“Innovative” is a word that comes up in a lot in these tributes to Van Halen, a demonstration of just how much the guitarist’s influence has and will continue to ripple across generations.
David Lee Roth, Michael Anthony, and Sammy Hagar, Van Halen’s former bandmates, have all posted reactions. “What a Long Great Trip It’s Been,” wrote Roth. “Heartbroken and speechless. My love to the family,” said Hagar. Anthony shared a photo of the pair, writing, “No words…Heartbroken.”
Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello, a modern legend in his own right, called Van Halen “one of the greatest musicians in the history of mankind,” as well as an “unparalleled titan in the annals of rock n roll.”
Gene Simmons, an early advocate for the band who produced some of their earliest demos, called Van Halen a “Guitar God” and “a genuinely beautiful soul.” Simmons’ KISS bandmate, Paul Stanley, also chimed in: “I remember first seeing him playing at the Starwood in 1976 and he WAS Eddie Van Halen.”
“You changed our world,” wrote Mötley Crüe’s Nikki Sixx. “You were the Mozart of rock guitar.”
Another contemporary of Van Halen’s, Skid Row’s Sebastian Bach, lamented the loss of Van Halen and Rush’ Neil Peart in the same year.
Adam Sandler, calling Van Halen “funny as hell,” dubbed the guitarist “the favorite guitar player of our generation.” Sandler’s love for the band bled into a number of his movies, including The Wedding Singer, in which he urges his ex-fiancée to “get out of my Van Halen t-shirt before you jinx the band and they break up.”
Below, see more tributes from Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi and Geezer, Flea, Billy Idol, Brian Wilson,