Though most media outlets are concentrating on Eddie Van Halen‘s statement that his father started him on the road to alcoholism, arguably the bigger news in his Esquire interview is that he had two cancer relapses last year.
He was first diagnosed in 2000 and doctors removed a portion of his tongue. Last spring, doctors found and removed cancer cells in his throat, and then in the fall they had to remove another piece of his tongue.
In 2008, following the Van Halen reunion tour with David Lee Roth the year before, Eddie became addicted to Klonopin, which was prescribed to help him stop drinking. He says, “All I wanted to do was stop drinking, but instead I literally could not communicate… I don’t know what dimension I went to, but I was not here. It was such a long process to come out of this. Just to be able to communicate, to talk, was a feat in itself.” Like drinking and illegal drugs, Eddie kicked that habit and has been sober ever since.