Fast Facts

  • Considered one of the most influential guitarists in the history of rock music.
  • Immigrated with his family to California from the Netherlands in the 1960s.
  • Began learning piano as a young child.
  • Took up the drums while his brother, Alex, started playing guitar after their family's move to the U.S.; they eventually switched instruments.
  • Taught himself to play guitar by listening to legendary axemen like Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page.
  • Was the original lead singer of Mammoth, the band he and Alex formed in high school; it was later renamed Van Halen.
  • Made his recording debut on Van Halen's 1978 self-titled album, which has sold more than 10 million copies.
  • Played the fiery guitar solo on Michael Jackson's 1983 hit "Beat It."
  • Battled tongue cancer in the early 2000s.
  • Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as a member of Van Halen, in 2007.
  • Married his second wife, Janie, in a ceremony officiated by Alex, who is an ordained minister.


  • 1991, Grammy — Best Hard Rock Performance With Vocal: Winner


  • Eugenia Van Halen — Mother
  • Wolfgang Van Halen — Son
  • Alex Van Halen — Brother
  • Jan Van Halen — Father
  • Valerie Bertinelli — Ex-wife
  • Janie Liszewski — Wife


  • Attended Pasadena City College, Pasadena, CA


  • Birth Name: Eduard Lodewijk Van Halen
  • Birth Place: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Profession: Rock guitarist

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