Called one of the greatest rock guitarists, Van Halen felt a callus on his tongue in 2000. It was cancer. He tried an experimental treatment, and doctors also took out part of his tongue. The cancer returned a decade later, this time in his throat as well. He had more of his tongue removed. The chain-smoking Van Halen blamed his cancer on metal guitar picks he once held in his mouth, not on cigarettes. He died of a stroke on October 6, 2020.