White Stripes frontman Jack White paid tribute to rock legend Eddie Van Halen, who died of cancer at the age of 65 last week, during his performance this weekend on Saturday Night Live. White played “Lazaretto,” a 2015 Grammy-nominated hit from his second solo album of the same name, on a cobalt blue guitar designed for him by Van Halen.
“Eddie was very kind to me and saw to it that this guitar was made for me to my specs,” White wrote on Instagram earlier. “I won’t even insult the man’s talent by trying to play one of his songs tonight. Thanks again, Eddie, for this guitar, and rest in peace sir.”
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At the end of the program, a clip of Van Halen shredding his guitar while performing with the Robert Cray Band on the show in 1987 was shown. Van Halen’s ex-wife, Valerie Bertinelli, was the host of that episode.
Van Halen died after a private battle with throat cancer. The Dutch-born American rock star, who co-founded Van Halen with his brother in 1972, was the group’s main songwriter and lead guitarist until his death. In 2019, the musician was hospitalized after battling throat cancer for the previous five years. He died from the illness at Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California.
In 2019, Van Halen ranked 20th on the RIAA list of best-selling artists with 56 million album sales in the United States and more than 80 million worldwide. Eddie Van Halen was voted number one in a Guitar World magazine reader’s poll for “The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” in 2012.
White was a last-minute replacement for country star Morgan Wallen, 27, who was originally scheduled to perform on the show. Wallen was taken off the schedule after a viral TikTok video earlier in the week showed him maskless drinking and kissing guests at a bar in Tuscaloosa, Alabama without proper social distancing protocols. Wallen later posted an Instagram video apologizing to the show and fans for his behavior.
This week’s host Bill Burr also remembered Van Halen, saying, “Rest in peace, Eddie Van Halen.”
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