Wolfgang Van Halen Reveals Why Father Eddie Van Halen Was a ‘Terrible Teacher’

by Chris Haney
Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Solters

Following legendary guitarist Eddie Van Halen’s death, his son, Wolfgang, has continued to share great stories about his late father, including a recent talk revealing that his dad wasn’t the best guitar teacher.

On Thursday, the youngest Van Halen joined “The Afternoon Program” on 102.9 The Hog in Milwaukee, WI. He spoke about his new solo project Mammoth WVH, and his recently released first single.

In addition, he also spoke about his famous father who just so happened to be a guitar genius. However, Wolfgang admits that his dad’s incredible musical talent did not transfer to teaching that ability to his son. Eddie Van Halen’s son even went as far as calling his dad a “terrible teacher.” In fact, he basically taught himself how to play without his father’s help.

“He didn’t teach me how to play guitar, he was a terrible teacher. He only taught me how to do power chords on a guitar, and then I taught myself,” Wolfgang explained while laughing.

Wolfgang said that his dad struggled to simplify his playing. The instrument came so easily to the guitar virtuoso that he couldn’t understand why others couldn’t immediately play like him.

“I would ask him how to play something, and then he would just be himself, which is be a legendary guitar player. He couldn’t really help me connect point A to point B. He would just do it and go, ‘Do this,’ because it’s so easy for him. And I would just laugh and be, like, ‘Okay,'” Wolfgang joked.

Wolfgang Compares His Dad To Albert Einstein

Wolfgang told the radio hosts that he picked up the guitar around age 12. In fact, he not only played guitar but also every other instrument on his new Mammoth WVH record. He said he originally wanted to learn guitar “because I wanted to learn how to play ‘316’, the song [my father] wrote for me, at a talent show at my school. I think it was sixth grade.”

Eddie’s son shared his dad’s natural musical talent. He became so good that he joined his father and uncle’s iconic rock band, Van Halen, at age 16. Additionally, he replaced bassist Michael Anthony for the band’s 2007 reunion tour with original lead singer David Lee Roth. Yet, it sounds like Wolfgang thrived on his own musical talent without much help from Eddie.

“I guess it’s the same thing with [Albert] Einstein,” he said, comparing Eddie to one of the world’s greatest scientists. “Einstein couldn’t tie his shoes. There’s a saying where it’s, like, you’re such a genius that it’s hard to impart that to others. It’s just kind of what you are.”

Wolfgang released the lead single “Distance” from his MAMMOTH WVH project in mid-November. He wrote the single as his dad battled cancer in recent years. In a statement, he said he wrote it while “imagining what my life would be without him, and how terribly I’d miss him.”

On Oct. 6, Eddie passed away at age 65 after fighting a long battle with throat cancer. He died at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, CA with his wife, Janie Liszewski, by his side. His son, Wolfgang, and Alex – Eddie’s brother and drummer – were also with him as he passed.