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Guitar great Eddie Van Halen dies at 65: 'Heaven will be electric tonight'

Sammy Hagar, Lenny Kravitz, Metallica, Weezer and other musicians, plus countless fans, pay tribute.

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Van Halen battled throat cancer.
Getty Images

Guitarist Eddie Van Halen has died at age 65. Van Halen's son, Wolfgang, confirmed the news Tuesday on Twitter, citing his father's "long and arduous battle with cancer." 

Van Halen died at St. Johns Hospital in Santa Monica, California, of throat cancer, with his wife Janie, son Wolfgang and his older brother, Alex, at his side, according to TMZ, which first reported the musician's death. The news of his passing trended on Twitter Tuesday, with fans and fellow musicians expressing condolences and sharing memories of the iconic guitarist's impact on music. 

"Heaven will be electric tonight," Lenny Kravitz tweeted. Wrote singer and songwriter John Fogerty, "I stood in awe and complete wonderment of Eddie's immense talent and amazing guitar ability." Weezer, meanwhile, said it will dedicate its upcoming album Van Weezer to to the guitarist "as a thank you for all the incredible music that soundtracked our youth and inspired the record."

Eddie and Alex formed their instrumental hard rock band, Van Halen, in Pasadena in 1972. Eddie played guitar, with Alex on drums, David Lee Roth singing and Michael Anthony on bass. 

The band went through various changes over the years, including Roth leaving in the mid-'80s, only to return several times to take on the role of lead singer. In 2006, Wolfgang, Van Halen's son with ex-wife Valerie Bertinelli, replaced Anthony on bass. The band is best known for hits including "Panama" and "Jump." Van Halen was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.

"Losing Eddie Van Halen feels like the death of Superman," one fan wrote Tuesday. "Eddie could be the most important guitarist of the 20th century."