WOLFGANG VAN HALEN On Being Approached To Play 'Eruption' At GRAMMY AWARDS: 'It Just Seemed Like A Tone-Deaf Ask'
March 26, 2021
Eddie Van Halen's son has once again criticized The Recording Academy for the way it recognized his father at this year's Grammy Awards.
The legendary VAN HALEN axeman was included in the "In Memoriam" segment at the 63rd annual Grammy Awards, where The Recording Academy paid tribute to musicians who died in the past year. At one point in the segment, Eddie Van Halen's name flashed across the screen over a clip of him shredding a guitar solo while a spotlight shone on his iconic red-white-and-black guitar.
Eddie's son, Wolfgang Van Halen, later revealed in a social media post that he was approached by the Grammy producers to perform his father's signature guitar instrumental "Eruption" during the broadcast but that he declined.
In a new interview with Rolling Stone, Wolfgang said: "It just seemed like kind of a tone-deaf ask. It just didn't feel right. And I think some people are, like, 'Well, you should have just fucking done it anyway.' And I don't think they were really thinking about the emotional attachment to it. And just the fact that it isn't the right thing to do and something I'm not comfortable with.
"I'll always be here to champion my father and to further his legacy to the ends of the earth," he continued. "I'm a little biased, but I think you cannot argue the impact that three guitar players had on the history of the instrument. And that's Les Paul, Jimi Hendrix, and my dad. And so when something like this happens, you think he would be deserving of a bit more time."
Last week, Grammy executive producer Ben Winston defended The Recording Academy for the way it recognized Eddie Van Halen at this year's Grammy Awards. He confirmed to Variety that Wolfgang was asked to appear on the program and he explained the reason Van Halen ended up not getting a longer tribute during the event.
Ben said: "We had a call with [a rep for] Wolfgang before the show, and I asked him if he'd be willing to come on and play. He felt 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."
He continued: "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."
Wolfgang wasn't the only one who felt The Recording Academy should have done better. SiriusXM DJ 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."
Former VAN HALEN singer Gary Cherone, who took over when Sammy Hagar left the group (or was fired, depending on whom you ask) in 1996, was also upset by the tribute.
"Maybe an artist that reimagined how one plays an instrument, who continues to influence generations of musicians and, literally changed the course of rock 'n' roll deserves more than fifteen second at the Grammys," Cherone wrote on Twitter.
The Recording Academy regularly comes under fire for failing to include musicians who died in the past year, largely due to the time limitations of the broadcast. More than 800 names were considered for inclusion this year, according to Variety. On its web site, The Recording Academy included all of those names on a more comprehensive list, noting that the televised "In Memoriam" segment is meant to only highlight some of the artists who died this year, not necessarily all.
Eddie passed away in October at the age of 65.
VAN HALEN was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2007.
Rolling Stone magazine ranked Eddie Van Halen No. 8 in its list of the 100 greatest guitarists.