Eddie Van Halen blames guitar picks for giving him tongue cancer

The musician also reveals he's given up smoking in a new interview

Van Halen guitarist Eddie Van Halen has spoken in a new interview about his cancer scare a decade ago.

The musician was treated for tongue cancer in 2000, resulting in surgery which removed a third of his tongue. He was declared cancer-free in 2002.

Now, speaking to Billboard, Van Halen revealed that he’s given up smoking cigarettes but blames guitar picks for his cancer diagnosis.


“I used metal picks – they’re brass and copper – which I always held in my mouth, in the exact place where I got the tongue cancer,” Van Halen said.

“Plus, I basically live in a recording studio that’s filled with electromagnetic energy. So that’s one theory. I mean, I was smoking and doing a lot of drugs and a lot of everything. But at the same time, my lungs are totally clear. This is just my own theory, but the doctors say it’s possible.”

Eddie Van Halen underwent emergency surgery in 2012, having been suffering from a severe case of Diverticulitis. The disease is a digestive disorder which involves an inflammation and infection of the colon.

A statement at the time read: “Eddie Van Halen underwent an emergency surgery for a severe bout of Diverticulitis. No further surgeries are needed and a full recovery is expected within 4-6 months. Van Halen’s scheduled November 2012 tour of Japan is currently being rescheduled and the band looks forward to seeing and playing for their fans in 2013.”

Meanwhile, a legal dispute between the band and drummer Alex Van Halen’s ex-wife Kelly was recently settled out of court. The two sides clashed over Kelly Van Halen’s use of her married surname for her construction and interior design business.

The Hollywood Reporter stated that Kelly set up trademarks to use the name for a range of products including armoires, pillows, blankets, ponchos, construction management, installation of solar-thermal installations, and interior design services.


The band took exception to this and filed legal action against the drummer’s former partner. They stated in court that the trademark was “confusingly similar to their own and that she was diluting Van Halen, passing off Van Halen and committing unfair competition for Van Halen.”

Now both parties have settled the dispute out of court. Kelly has agreed not to put her name to anything that could be considered a musical product while a representative for the band described the settlement as “amicable”. In total the two sides spent three years fighting the case at the US Trademark Office and a further 15 months in court.

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