Legendary rock guitarist Eddie Van Halen, born in the Netherlands to an Indonesia-born mother and Dutch father, died Tuesday after battling cancer. He was 65.
Van Halen was famous for perfecting the technique of two-hand tapping on the guitar neck, an approach adopted by guitar players around the world. He is also known for playing the guitar of the hit song “Beat It” by Michael Jackson. According to reports, he had been suffering from throat cancer since 2000.
Van Halen formed the eponymous rock band “Van Halen” with his brother Alex, who was the drummer, in 1978. Their debut album “Van Halen” was a smash hit, and the group first performed in Japan about six months after the release.
The follow-up album “1984,” named after the year it was released, included iconic 1980s rock songs such as “Jump” and “Panama.” In 2007, Van Halen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Lesser known is the ancestry Eddie has from his mother Eugenie van Beers.
Eugenie was born in a little village called Rangkasbitung in the far western part of Java in Indonesia. This was the administrative centre of the district Lebak in the residency Bantam.
Eddie’s father, Jan van Halen, immigrated to the Dutch East Indies (which is now Indonesia) after World War II where he met Eugenie van Beers. Jan and Eugenie married in 1950 and re-immigrated to Holland 1953, where they settled in Amsterdam.
As fans around the world mourned the star, Jakarta-born singer-songwriter Anggun posted on Instagram that she had grown up listening to the band and called Eddie Van Halen “one of the greatest guitar players of all time.”
“He was also good looking,” she wrote, “probably because he had Indonesian blood. He was my guitar hero.”