Legendary DEEP PURPLE and RAINBOW guitarist Ritchie Blackmore has paid tribute to Eddie Van Halen, who passed away on Tuesday (October 6) at the age of 65.
Blackmore said in a statement: "Eddie Van Halen was a brilliant guitarist who started a technique of guitar playing which was emulated by a whole generation of guitarists. He was one of the nicest musicians I ever met in the music business. Very shy and not at all conceited about his ability as a guitar player.
"Frank Zappa said [Eddie] reinvented the guitar. I agree.
"He will be sadly missed but his brilliant legacy will always be remembered. The ultimate guitar hero."
Eddie died at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California. His wife, Janie, was by his side, along with his son, Wolfgang, and Alex, Eddie's brother and VAN HALEN drummer.
The iconic VAN HALEN axeman died from complications due to cancer, his son confirmed.
After undergoing hip replacement surgery in 1999 due to a chronic joint problem, Eddie was diagnosed with mouth cancer in 2000 and had to have part of his tongue surgically removed. He later battled throat cancer and reportedly had been receiving radiation treatment in Germany. It is believed that his heavy smoking over the years led to his long battle with cancer.