WOLFGANG VAN HALEN To VAN HALEN Fans: Don't Hold Your Breath For Unreleased Material From The Vaults
December 6, 2020
Wolfgang Van Halen has told The Oakland Press that he has not yet started to look through the famous home-studio vaults of his father, legendary VAN HALEN guitarist Eddie Van Halen, for unheard material that might be suitable for future release. "That's not gonna happen for a long time," he said. "I have no idea what's in there that would be worth releasing. To a certain extent, my dad released all the good stuff. Even without the intention to release, I want to archive it properly and digitize it, so everything is safe for years to come. It's going to be an incredibly difficult process and a very long process to do properly.
"I think when a very important musician passes, you usually see right away the compilations of unreleased music that maybe should have stayed unreleased, and it just seems like a cash grab to take hold of the moment," he continued. "I've always disagreed with that, so if we're ever gonna do anything with the vault, I want to make sure we do it right and do something that dad would be okay with. So I humbly ask the VAN HALEN fan base to not hold their breath on this, because you'll pass out."
Last month, engineer Brian Kehew told the Sunset Sound Recorders video series that was hired as an independent contractor around 15 years ago to go through the Warner Brothers archive in search of material for potential expanded reissues of VAN HALEN's studio albums, and he came up with four CDs worth of tracks from 1977 to 1984 for the band members to review. Among the VAN HALEN treasures locked up in the record label's vault was an alternate version of "Hot For Teacher", featuring different lyrics and Eddie Van Halen duelling with himself on bass and guitar. Also found in the vaults were various demos that have been making the rounds among VAN HALEN collectors for decades, including "Bring On The Girls", which later became "Beautiful Girls"; "Voodoo Queen", which evolved into "Mean Street"; and a different recording of "Little Dreamer".
"'Hot For Teacher', there's different lyrics all the way through it," Brian explained in the Sunset Sound Recorders video interview. "That is a strange one, because Eddie plays bass on that one. And on the intro, which is that great guitar part, he actually doubled it on the bass. But probably, they couldn't quite play it live, so they didn't keep it on the record. But they did keep [the rest of] Ed's bass track on the actual record."
As for why the material wasn't reissued back then, Kehew said: "At the time, Sammy Hagar was in the group, so it was bad timing to promote anything with Dave [Lee Roth]. When Dave got back in the band [several years later], [their mindset was] 'Now we need a new album, now we need a new live record,' and it was not a time to promote the past and the old stuff. I think down the road somewhere, it will be time."
Back in January 2018, Eddie Van Halen filed a civil injunction to halt the release and sale of footage that was taken by filmmaker Andrew Bennett at the guitarist's 5150 Studios in 2006. The footage reportedly contained clips of Eddie, Wolfgang and Alex Van Halen — without a singer — in the studio, performing a 19-song set. None of the footage has ever been released.