Tony Iommi shares how he learned Eddie Van Halen was dying

Publish Date
Tuesday, 16 March 2021, 10:35PM
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Getty Images

During a recent interview with Spin, Tony Iommi opened up about losing his longtime friend Eddie Van Halen. The Van Halen guitarist passed away last October after battling cancer. He was 65-years-old.

Iommi and Van Halen had been close friends since their bands—Black Sabbath and Van Halen, respectively—first toured together forty years prior. The Black Sabbath guitarist revealed he heard from his friend via email shortly before his last hospitalization. "I knew it was a matter of time,” Iommi said of the email, which signified to him that Van Halen was close to death. “I could tell. The last email was just before he went into hospital the last time and it was really… You know, some of the words were mixed up, he was obviously sedated or something. But that was the last one I had from him. I really miss him.”

Iommi also reflected on some of the happier times he shared with Van Halen, including being able to confide in each other when their bandmates were bothering them. “He’d be going on about Dave Roth, and I’d be going on around about [whoever],” Iommi revealed. “We’d talk about music and talk about different things. Piss and moan about stuff, you know.”

They didn't only spend their time complaining, though. Iommi shared that Van Halen would often rave about his son, Wolfgang. “Eddie idolized him,” he said. “You know, he really did. We used to talk about Wolfie quite a lot. And when we played in L.A. last time, they all came. Wolfie and Alex and Eddie and the wives. I got some great photos with us all. it was brilliant.”

As for whether he'd ever try to imitate his friend's virtuoso guitar style, Iommi said, "No, in a word! I mean, he was so good. And he got absolutely amazing at that stuff. But again, when somebody’s done it, to me, I don’t want to be going around doing it; ‘Oh, Eddie Van Halen already does it.’ But I couldn’t actually do it. To be honest, it just wasn’t my style of playing. What he did was just brilliant.”

This article was first published on and is republished here with permission