Grammys Producer Says 2021 Eddie Van Halen Tribute Was His ‘Family’s Wishes’

by Caitlin Berard
(Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

After his untimely death in October of 2020, Grammy producers hoped to give an elaborate tribute to Eddie Van Halen to take place at the 2021 Grammy Awards. Rather than the extravagant tribute to the rock icon fans anticipated, however, the Eddie Van Halen remembrance was surprisingly understated.

As the awards show already receives criticism for the lack of attention given to rock music, fans and fellow musicians were outraged. A year later, Grammy producer David Wild revealed that the subdued tribute was a result of the wishes expressed by the family of Van Halen.

What to Know:

  • Eddie Van Halen passed away in late 2020
  • The 2021 Grammy Awards included an Eddie Van Halen tribute
  • Due to a request from Van Halen’s family, the tribute was more subdued than expected

Family of Eddie Van Halen Gave Instructions for Grammys Tribute

On April 3, 2021, rock fans around the world tuned in to the 64th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony to watch the music world pay respect to the late Eddie Van Halen. When Van Halen’s tribute finally arrived, however, it was merely a video playback of “Eruption” while a sole guitar rested on the stage.

The tribute left fans and fellow musicians shocked and disappointed. Even Wolfgang Van Halen, the son of the legendary songwriter, expressed his displeasure with the awards show.

On the anniversary of the unsatisfactory tribute, the producer behind the segment finally revealed the truth. While he agrees it wasn’t what Van Halen fans would have wanted, the somber tribute was at the request of the musician’s family.

In an interview with The Mitch Lafon and Jeremy White Show, Grammys producer David Wild explained his interaction with the family of Eddie Van Halen. “Eddie Van Halen was a friend of mine,” Wild said. “I wrote a cover story on him, I worked with him on a book that he wanted to do at one point, I saw him a year before he died, I was at his house. I loved him.”

“We went and said to the family, ‘We have these people who could perform something. If Wolfgang wants to do something, he can do that. Tell us what you would be comfortable with,'” Wild continued. “They said, ‘No one should perform it.’ [It] was not like they wanted to say, ‘Only if you can get so-and-so’… They didn’t want anyone, so we had to find the video.”

The Request from the Family of Eddie Van Halen

The family of Eddie Van Halen adamantly rejected the idea of a live performance. Instead, they requested that the Grammys tribute showcase Eddie and Eddie only. Though tracking down the “Eruption” performance was no easy task, David Wild knew that it would place all the focus on Eddie Van Halen and not the band as a whole.

“It was the family’s desire not to have something with a vocal,” David Wild said. “It was to showcase Edward. So that’s what we did. And yet there was criticism, and it was frustrating to me, I will tell you. This was the family’s wishes.”