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The word virtuoso isn’t used lightly to describe musical and artistic genius. However, there are few better descriptors for Eddie Van Halen, who died on Tuesday at the age of 65 from throat cancer. The Van Halen guitarist redefined rock stardom, spreading joy and exuberance from the stage while making jaw-dropping technical moves look impossibly easy.
Born in 1955 in the Netherlands to a Dutch father and a mother from Indonesia, Eddie moved to the U.S. in second grade along with his older brother, Alex. Their early years were tough. During a 2015 Washington Times interview, Van Halen recalled his family members lived in one room together after arriving in Pasadena, California, and didn’t speak English; in fact, they’d scour dumpsters for scrap metal to sell. However, the Van Halens fortuitously brought a piano with them to America — patriarch Jan Van Halen was a