WOLFGANG VAN HALEN Looks Backs On Joining VAN HALEN At Age 15: 'It Really Forced Me To Mature Very Quickly At A Young Age'
September 15, 2023
In a new interview with Australia's "Everblack" podcast, Wolfgang Van Halen, who joined VAN HALEN at just 15 years old and shared the stage with his father, legendary VAN HALEN guitarist Eddie Van Halen, together from 2006 until 2015, five years before Eddie's death, reflected on the experience of playing in a legendary rock act at such a young age. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Yeah, I think there were a lot of positives and a lot of negatives. I think it really forced me to mature very quickly at a young age. I think at 15, I couldn't be a regular 15-year-old. So in a certain way, I couldn't be a regular teenager anymore once that happens, and I experienced a lot of stuff, I think, that most kids that age wouldn't really normally experience. But that's my story and I wouldn't take it back for anything. It's what has led me to where I've gone my entire life. It was a really important thing to be there and to support my dad, and that's all that was really on my mind. And being able to play with my family for that long is something I'll never forget."
In recent months, Wolfgang has repeatedly said that "drama" in the VAN HALEN camp has prevented a proposed all-star VAN HALEN tribute project from materializing.
Wolfgang played three VAN HALEN songs over the course of two Taylor Hawkins tribute concerts in September 2022 alongside FOO FIGHTERS members Dave Grohl on bass, Josh Freese on drums and THE DARKNESS's Justin Hawkins on vocals.
No progress has been reported on a possible VAN HALEN tribute concert since April 2022 when former METALLICA bassist Jason Newsted revealed to The Palm Beach Post that he was approached by VAN HALEN drummer Alex Van Halen about six months earlier about playing bass for the project. Newsted told the Florida newspaper that he agreed to go to California to jam with Alex and legendary guitarist Joe Satriani and see if it felt right, but he eventually realized that it would be impossible to do justice to VAN HALEN's legacy. Three months later, Wolfgang told Rolling Stone magazine that the idea for the Eddie Van Halen tribute was ultimately nixed due to the personality clashes within VAN HALEN.
Wolfgang, who played "On Fire", "Hot For Teacher" and "Panama" at the Hawkins tribute concerts, told Classic Rock magazine that he was no longer actively interested in pursuing the idea of a standalone Eddie Van Halen tribute event. "I think I already did it with the Taylor Hawkins tributes," he explained. "I feel a lot of closure because my part of the show was a tribute to my father."
"When it comes to VAN HALEN and entities surrounding the band it's unfortunate, certainly compared to FOO FIGHTERS who have their shit together with interpersonal relationships," Wolfgang added.
"I don't know what it is with some bands but certain personalities just can't get over themselves to work collectively for one purpose. That's been the curse of VAN HALEN for its entire career. So my playing at the Taylor shows delivered that catharsis without the stresses of dealing with the VAN HALEN camp, and the players involved. Their camp is very dysfunctional — everyone! Hell, it was difficult to make plans even when the band was active."
When Classic Rock's Dave Ling asked Wolfgang about Hagar's comment that he would "love to play those songs again," Wolfgang said: "He said that, but he also said he wouldn't. Sammy said two different things. No… I feel that I've said my piece, and if the Taylor concerts are all that happens then I'm happy with that."
In June 2021, Wolfgang, who joined his father in VAN HALEN for the band's 2007 reunion tour with Roth, replacing Anthony, told SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk" it would be "great" to eventually organize an Eddie Van Halen tribute show. "It's not in the immediate plans, 'cause that's a lot of moving parts that you've gotta corral to get that to happen. But I definitely think it should happen. Absolutely," he said.
Asked how he envisioned the tribute concert taking place in terms of which musicians should be involved, Wolfgang said: "I have no idea. All I know is that the focus should a hundred percent be on Pop. While it could be a celebration of VAN HALEN and the band's history, I think more than anything, it should be focused on him… It's a tall ask and a big thing to figure out. But I do think it should happen at some point."
In November 2020, Wolfgang told Entertainment Tonight that proceeds from any tribute show in honor of his father would go toward Eddie's favorite charity, Mr. Holland's Opus, which helps underprivileged students access musical instruments. Proceeds from the debut solo single from Wolfgang's solo band MAMMOTH WVH, "Distance", are also benefiting Mr. Holland's Opus.
Eddie died in October 2020 at the age of 65. The legendary VAN HALEN guitarist passed away at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California.
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