"He really was a good man. It’s always a sad day when somebody like that dies," Ozzy Osbourne said

By Claudia Harmata
October 07, 2020 09:01 AM
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Credit: David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images; C Flanigan/WireImage

Ozzy Osbourne is remembering his late friend and fellow musician, legendary guitarist Eddie Van Halen.

On Tuesday, the former Black Sabbath lead singer, 71, shared an essay with Rolling Stone, honoring Van Halen, who died on Tuesday after a "long and arduous" battle with cancer. He was 65.

"I was just looking at my phone today and I saw the news that Eddie Van Halen had died, and I went, 'Oh, my God.' I was in shock," Osbourne wrote. "He really was a good man. It’s always a sad day when somebody like that dies. It’s like when Michael Jackson died. I didn’t believe it at first. It’s such a f------ loss."

Osbourne said he hasn't "hung around" with Van Halen for quite some time, but recalled when he joined him on the last official Black Sabbath tour in 1979 when the late guitarist and his band opened for them.

"They were such good guys to be around. We had such fun. Every time I ever saw Eddie Van Halen, it was fun," the singer said.

Osbourne then raved about Van Halen's talent on the guitar. "There were some other good players, and there are some very clever ones, but it’s not just playing an instrument. You’ve got to put the emotion behind you, and Eddie had all that. He made it look so easy."

Eddie Van Halen
| Credit: Koh Hasebe/Shinko Music/Getty

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"One thing I loved about Eddie was he always had a big grin on his face, and he looked like he was enjoying every second he was up there. Whether it was showbiz bullshit or not — I don’t think it was — he always looked like he was having the best time of his life up there," he continued. "I could sit and watch Eddie Van Halen play guitar all day. He’s so entertaining as a guitar player. He made it look like it was not difficult. He made it look like it was a natural thing. Everybody else was trying to be Eddie Van Halen, but there is only one Eddie Van Halen. I thought he was brilliant. God only knows, what you have to do to get that good."

Prior to sharing his touching essay, Osbourne paid tribute to Van Halen on social media.

"@EddieVanHalen was one of the nicest guys I ever worked with and we shared so many laughs together. His influence on music and especially the guitar has been immeasurable. He was an absolute legend. Eddie, I’ll see you on the other side, my friend. Love, Ozzy," he wrote on Twitter Tuesday evening.

Van Halen died Tuesday morning after a years-long battle with cancer, his son, Wolf, confirmed the news on Twitter.

"I can't believe I'm having to write this, but my father, Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, has lost his long and arduous battle with cancer this morning," he tweeted. "He was the best father I could ask for. Every moment I've shared with him on and off stage was a gift."

"My heart is broken and I don't think I'll ever recover from this loss," he added. "I love you so much, Pop."

Van Halen's ex-wife, and mother of Wolf, Valerie Bertinelli, replied to the tweet with several broken heart emojis. Van Halen and Bertinelli were married for 20 years.

A source close to Van Halen told PEOPLE that the guitar hero had a rapid decline in health over the past three days and that the cancer had "spread to all his organs."

Van Halen's wife, Janie Liszewski, Wolf and Bertinelli were at the hospital with him at the time of his death.