Wolfgang Van Halen says he’s already paid tribute to his father and Van Halen with his appearances at the Taylor Hawkins tribute concerts.
During a recent interview with Classic Rock‘s Dave Ling, Wolfgang was asked if a proper Van Halen tribute will ever happen. He said the tribute already happened with his appearances on September 3rd and 27th in London and Los Angeles, respectively. Performing the songs “Hot For Teacher”, “On Fire” and “Panama” not only delivered the catharsis he needed. It also came without any drama.
Here’s what Wolfgang had to say:
Q: You appeared at the Californian leg of the Taylor Hawkins tribute show, almost a month after its counterpart at Wembley Stadium. What was it like being a part of such a star-studded event?
A: Man, it was an honour to participate in either, let alone both of those shows. Taylor was one of my biggest inspirations when it comes to drumming — the drums are my first instrument.
Q: How well did you know Taylor?
A: The one time I met him he came to a Van Halen show in 2012. My dad and I spoke to Taylor for almost two hours and he was just the sweetest guy. The news of his passing really broke me. Getting a call from Dave [Grohl], another inspiration of mine, to play the shows was a real shock.
Q: Your own performance at both shows was greeted with a lot of praise. You made those famous solos played by your father look relatively easy. Guitar World said you played them with “eerie accuracy”.
A: Hearing those things are a huge compliment. Some people took it really far and said that I didn’t actually do it at all.
Q: Yeah, there were some crazy reports that you were miming.
A: [Laughing] The most obvious response is to consider that an insult, but I take it as even more of a compliment. You line up the solos, and there are times when I’m not even playing what’s on the [original Van Halen] record. Preparing for those shows was really tough, because it forced me to go back and look through those songs. I still wasn’t completely comfortable in doing that, emotionally speaking, so it took a lot.
Q: Last time you spoke to Classic Rock, when asked about a potential VH reunion you replied: “My father will always be the heart of Van Halen, I just don’t see it happening.” However, machinations along those lines did take place, but the plan was aborted after the news leaked. Is such a show still unlikely?
A: I think I already did it with Taylor. I feel 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 inter-personal relationships. 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.
Q: Dave Lee Roth might be immovable, but Sammy Hagar told Rolling Stone that he “would love to play those songs again”.
A: 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.
Wolfgang’s September 3rd Performance
Wolfgang’s September 27th Performance