Eddie Van Halen’s son, Wolfgang, turned down the opportunity to do a tribute performance at this year’s Grammy Awards, saying he didn’t think anyone could do his father’s music justice.
Eddie Van Halen died in October 2020 after a battle with cancer. He was 65 years old. His son Wolfgang stepped in as his band’s bassist during 2012, replacing former bassist Michael Anthony. When asked by Grammy producers to perform “Eruption” — off the band’s 1978 debut album of the same name — Wolfgang refused.
He said that although he played in the band with his dad for several years, he didn’t feel up to the task of replicating one of their classic hits.
“The GRAMMYS asked me to play Eruption for the ‘In Memoriam’ section and I declined. I don’t think anyone could have lived up to what my father did for music but himself,” Wolfgang wrote in an Instagram post Monday night.
Instead of playing Wolfgang’s tribute version of “Eruption” live, the Grammy Awards played a very short segment from a live version of the song — about 20 seconds long — and shone a spotlight on one of Van Halen’s guitars onstage.
Wolfgang didn’t think that was enough. “What hurt the most was that he wasn’t even mentioned when they talked about artists we lost in the beginning of the show,” Wolfgang continued in his post. “I know rock isn’t the most popular genre right now, (and the academy does seem a bit out of touch) but I think it’s impossible to ignore the legacy my father left on the instrument, the world of rock, and music in general. There will never be another innovator like him.”
Van Halen’s son wasn’t the only one unsatisfied with the tribute at the Grammy Awards. Sirius XM metal D.J. Eddie Trunk called out how short the memorial was in an Instagram post and noted, “So in a more than three hour show this is all the #grammys could muster for an ICON?! I am beyond outraged and disgusted.”
Gary Cherone, who briefly assumed the role of lead vocalist in Van Halen on their 1998 record “Van Halen III” (after Sammy Hagar left the band in 1996 and original lead singer David Lee Roth refused to come back), was also miffed by the tribute.
“Maybe an artist that reimagined how one plays an instrument, who continues to influence g generations of musicians and, literally changed the course of rock ‘n’ roll deserves more than fifteen second(s) at the Grammys,” Cherone mused on Twitter.
Wolfgang said he wasn’t trying to cause a riot even though he didn’t approve of the tribute. “I’m not looking to start some kind of hate parade here, I just wanted to explain my side. I know Pop would probably just laugh it off and say ‘Ehh who gives a s—?’ He was only about the music anyway. The rest didn’t matter.”
Wolfgang tagged the Recording Academy in his post and said he hoped they would open a dialogue with him about the incident and the larger absence of Rock ‘n Roll at the Awards.
“I’d love to get the opportunity to speak with The Recording Academy not only about the legacy of my father, but the legacy of the Rock genre moving forward,” Wolfgang Van Halen said.
View this post on Instagram