Eddie Van Halen: The death of a rock star and inventor

Legendary rocker owned several guitar patents and called himself a 'tinkerer'

Rock 'n' roll icon Eddie Van Halen, who led his eponymous band for more than 40 years before dying of cancer Tuesday at the age of 65, lived a hard-rocking life, but was rewarded handsomely for it.

Despite several personnel changes, superstar rock band Van Halen racked up more than 80 million in global record sales, which helped contribute to the late rocker being worth an estimated $100 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

News of the legendary guitarist's passing was confirmed by his son Wolf on Tuesday.

"I can't believe I'm having to write this, but my father, Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, has lost his long and arduous battle with cancer this morning," he wrote on Twitter. "He was the best father I could ever ask for. Every moment I've shared with him on stage and off stage was a gift. My heart is broken and I don't think I'll ever fully recover from this loss.I love you so much, Pop."

The younger Van Halen is the only child from the rock star's marriage to former sitcom star and current Food Network host, Valerie Bertinelli. The ex-"One Day at a Time" star replied to her son's statement on Twitter with a string of broken-heart emojis. The couple was married for 26 years, divorcing in 2007.


While he is mainly known as the skilled guitarist and co-founder of Van Halen, along with his brother Alex, he had a successful career as an inventor owning several guitar patents.

Among them; "Musical Instrument Support""Stringed instrument with adjustable string tension control" and "Guitar Peghead".

Eddie Van Halen's Musical Patents

"Musical instrument support”

A device that would allow a guitar or similar instrument to be positioned perpendicular to a musician’s body, letting a musician play the guitar in a completely different manner to create sounds that couldn’t be achieved from the standard carry.

"Stringed instrument with adjustable string tension control"

A series of pegs anchored to the tailpiece of a guitar, which allowed guitar strings wrapped around the pegs to always maintain a consistent tune.

"Guitar Peghead"

Placed the tuning pegs on the opposite sides of a guitar's headstocks to help the strings hold tension. It also removes the need for string trees and hinders string replacement.


Van Halen told Popular Mechanics that he has always been a tinkerer after growing up watching his dad in the family's house in Pasadena, California.

Photo by Daniel Knighton/Getty Images

He explained that his playing style came from adding pickups to his guitar to squeeze the sounds out since he was unable to afford a distortion pedal. He also reshaped the neck of his guitar.

"Most guitar necks are too round on the back, so I took sandpaper and reshaped the neck to be very flat, he told Popular Mechanics.

"I actually refretted a few guitars early on because I wanted to shave the fingerboard down and make the neck even flatter," the legend explained referring to the frets which are the raised metal wires on the neck of the guitar. "The flatter it was, the farther I could bend a string without fretting out, or choking the sound when the string hits a fret higher on the neck."

Van Halen later built his own guitar out of wood to avoid his fingers from sliding all over the place or getting sticky when he sweat.

"My own sweat and oil would soak in to make it smooth," he added. "It took a lot of playing to get it that way but, eventually, it just felt so much better than any synthetic product you could put on there."

He also created his own whammy bar and pick up on his guitar, and restored a Marshall Amp that he picked up from his local store.

"When all those things came together, it was like, okay, I'm going crazy with the whammy bar, I got my Marshall with the Variac, there's no stopping me," he added.


The brothers established Van Halen in 1974, playing clubs in Los Angeles during the 1970s before being offered a recording contract in 1977 by Warner Brothers.

The group released its first album, "Van Halen" in 1978, which became one of the most successful debut albums in rock history, selling over 10 million copies, according to Van Halen News Desk.

UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1970: Photo of Van Halen (Photo by Larry Hulst/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

The band is ranked 20th on the RIAA list of best-selling artists in the United States, having sold more than 56 million records.

Van Halen News Desk reported that the band also grossed $54 million from 46 shows in its "Different Kind of Truth Tour" in 2012.

Photo by David Becker/Getty Images

In addition, Van Halen earned a 1992 Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance for 1991's "For Unlawful Carnal Knowlege."

He also had something of a solo career on several movie soundtracks including "Back To The Future," "Over The Top," "Twister," and "Lethal Weapon 4" and notably played guitar on Michael Jackson's "Beat It."

Van Halen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.