Eddie Van Halen’s struggle to control his addiction to alcohol has been an issue since he first started playing music in front of large crowds. In the upcoming issue of Esquire, Van Halen put some of the blame on his father, who turned him onto drinking and cigarettes years ago in order to help calm his anxiety.
His problem began early in his career, when the award-winning musician attempted to combat the nervousness he experienced whenever he was performing onstage. When asked what he should do about the problem, his father poured him a shot of vodka and gave him a cigarette. This, Van Halen claims, is part of the reason why the illness consumed so much of his life.
“I don’t mean to blame my dad,” Van Halen explained. “But when I started playing in front of people, I’d get so damn nervous. I asked him, ‘Dad, how do you do it?’ That’s when he handed me the cigarette and the drink. And I go, Oh, this is good! It works!”
Eddie also touched on his battle with cancer, which began after he found a callus on his tongue back in 2000. After having the piece removed, everything seemed to be okay, that is, until doctors discovered cancer cells in his throat last spring. If that weren’t enough, another spot on his tongue was located last fall.
“I haven’t talked about this, because I don’t talk about this,” he explained.
Right now, the talented guitarist is clean, sober, and loving life. The recently-reunited Van Halen just added 18 dates to their current North America tour, which means you now have more opportunities to catch the group in action.