Eddie Van Halen, a guitar virtuoso who never lost sight of the sheer joy of rockin' out, passed away on Tuesday (Oct. 6) after battling cancer. The influential instrumentalist was 65.
Lending his name to the hard rock quartet Van Halen, Eddie Van Halen was a frequent presence on the Billboard Hot 100 in the '70s and '80s, thanks to his band and the scorching guitar solo he provided for Michael Jackson's No. 1 smash "Beat It." Even so, he often downplayed the latter: "It was 20 minutes of my life. I didn’t want anything for doing that...I literally thought to myself, ‘Who is possibly going to know if I play on this kid’s record?’" he told Billboard in a 2015 cover story of that iconic "Beat It" solo.