Wolfgang Van Halen is hard at work creating an upcoming album for his one-man-band, Mammoth WVH. It’s his first solo project since Van Halen. The group disbanded following the death of legendary performer, Eddie Van Halen, in October.
Last week was the 2021 Grammy Award ceremony. A number of different figures in the music industry that passed away this year were honored in a tribute sequence. The list was sadly far too long this year, partially due to COVID-19.
Eddie Van Halen, a legendary guitarist from Van Halen, was one of those artists that passed away in the last year. The Grammys asked his son, Wolf, to perform in honor of his father. He turned it down. Some fans are wondering why it is he made that decision.
Wolf’s Decision to Not Perform Eddie Van Halen Tribute
In a recent tweet, Wolf Van Halen responded to a fan that asked, “why didn’t you want to participate in the Grammy’s tribute to your dad? are they telling the truth that they asked you or no?”
He responded with, “I stated that publicly myself. I’m my own musician, not my father. Especially right now as I’m trying to carve my own path and asking me to ‘play dad’ felt like a tone-deaf ask so I declined.” Wolf turned down the request to play “Eruption” on stage. It featured one of Eddie Van Halen’s most infamous guitar solos.
In an earlier tweet, Wolf had also said, “I don’t think anyone could have lived up to what my father did for music but himself.”
Eddie Van Halen had a very brief tribute at the Grammys. This caused fans of him and Van Halen to be outraged at the association. Many considered it the Grammy’s way of not understanding the rock genre.
His “In Memoriam” segment was a short clip of different footage of him playing onstage over the years. However, other artists like Kenny Rogers, Little Richard, John Prine, and Gerry Marsden received far more substantial tributes.
Despite turning down the request to perform in his father’s honor, Wolf was still expecting more of a tribute. Eddie Van Halen had a major influence on guitar-playing and the rock genre in general. His clip was in the middle of four other full performances for artists who had passed away.
Eddie Van Halen wasn’t mentioned at the beginning of the show when artists who passed away were being discussed.
Grammys Producer Defends Tribute
In an interview with Variety, Grammys’ Executive Producer Ben Winston responded to the controversy over the Eddie Van Halen tribute.
“As for Eddie, we had a call with [Van Halen’s son] Wolfgang’s rep before the show, and I asked if he’d be willing to come on and play. He said he didn’t really want to do that, and I offered up eight or nine guitarists who maybe could. But instead, he felt like we should play a video of Eddie himself, because nobody could play like him, so that’s what we did. I would have loved for it to be longer than it was, but Eddie was the only person in the whole ‘In Memoriam’ to play their own music, with no other faces being seen. I felt that was an appropriate tribute to him, but if Wolfgang didn’t, I’m sorry about that, of course — it’s such a horrific thing to lose a parent. We did the best that we felt we could,” Winston said.
Other artists had current performers playing their music during the “In Memoriam” segment. This included Lionel Richie, Bruno Mars, Brandi Carlile, and Brittany Howard.
Winston’s defense was that Van Halen’s tribute helped to emphasize his absolutely unmatchable talent, especially on the guitar. In the process of showing him playing instead of having someone else perform, Van Halen is remembered specifically for his talent.