This week the world became a little quieter with the loss of innovative musician and inventor Eddie Van Halen (EVH). A seemingly larger than life “guitar god” has passed away due to metastatic throat cancer at age 65. EVH was a very private man about his health so hard facts about his illness are currently hard to find. His cancer reportedly was originally found in 2000 (1) on his tongue, which apparently spread to his throat over time. EVH maintains it was due to metal guitar picks held in his mouth while spending a lot of his life surrounded with electricity in recording studios, however his well documented history of alcohol and tobacco use seem to be the most likely contributing factors. (2)
I have had multiple connections to EVH over the years. My first album I ever bought when I was 12 years old was a Van Halen album, and they became my favorite band. I became infatuated with the guitar as a teenager, and in my 20’s I began playing myself. The first electric guitar I bought was a Peavey Wolfgang, designed by EVH and named after his son. When I was studying engineering at UA I had to tour a manufacturing facility and present on how a mass-produced item is made. I chose EVH’s Wolfgang. And in 2012 I finally got to see my favorite band live in Greensboro North Carolina, and it remains one of the highlights of my life.
As many EVH tributes emerge this week, in addition to a celebration of his music, the loss of Eddie Van Halen also is a reminder of oral cancer awareness. I perform an oral cancer exam at the end of every cleaning, looking for any abnormal areas that may need biopsy. Regular dental visits can help early detection of oral cancer.
Read more about EVH from the Oral Cancer Society here. (3)
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EVH’s biography can be read here (4)