Last Thursday (September 8) marked 45 years to the day that Eddie Van Halen’s Eruption was first recorded, and to celebrate the occasion, Wolfgang Van Halen posted a clip of him shredding the instrumental masterpiece using his late father’s Frankenstein electric guitar.
The footage was filmed in 2015 while Wolfgang was in the studio tracking guitars for Mammoth WVH’s debut album – an album that was recorded with the help of Eddie Van Halen’s iconic Frankenstein.
Clearly, the opportunity to shred some of his father’s classics was too good to pass up, and when prompted – “Give me a classic there, buddy,” says an off-camera presence – Wolfgang duly responded with a pinpoint playthrough of one of the greatest guitar solos of all time.
As heard from his Van Halen covers during the Taylor Hawkins tribute concert, Wolfgang’s sonic similarities to his father are uncanny – the two-hand tapping sequence, which is the focus of the video, is executed with eerie accuracy, with Wolfgang channeling his Van Halen powers for a flawless rendition.
“Eruption was recorded 45 years ago today,” Wolfgang wrote. “In honor of that, here’s a video of me playing part of it on the guitar it was recorded on.
“On Van Halen 1, the guitar was tuned a half-step down, but the song I was about to record was a full-step down,” he continued. “Hence Eruption being a half-step down here. You can hear my hesitation before playing, and I almost decided to try and play it up one fret, but I ended up just playing in its normal position.”
Recorded September 8, 1977, Eruption was never meant to make it onto Van Halen’s eponymous debut in 1978, and was only included after producer Ted Templeman heard Van Halen warming up in the studio.
“Our producer, Ted Templeman, happened to walk by and he asked, ‘What is that? Let’s put it on tape!’” Van Halen once told Guitar World. “So I took one pass at it and they put it on the record. I didn’t even play it right.”
Unsurprisingly, by 2015 Wolfgang was already familiar with the Frankenstein, with the Mammoth WVH leader telling Total Guitar the guitar made it onto two tracks from the band’s debut album: Mammoth and Feel.
“You feel the history,” he said. “It’s kind of terrifying holding it, just because arguably it is the most famous guitar in musical history. It’s definitely quite the thing to hold it.”
In his new post, Wolfgang also went on to say he plans to bring the Frankenstein back into the studio when Mammoth WVH record their follow-up LP.
“I had used the Frankenstein on a couple tracks on the first Mammoth WVH album, and we were just having some fun before we started,” he continued. “I definitely plan on bringing it out again for the second album.”
It’s the second time in as many weeks this particular performance clip has popped up. Last week, Rick Beato used it as evidence to shoot down skeptics who thought Wolfgang was playing to a backing track of Eddie during his Taylor Hawkins tribute concert appearance.
“He’s playing it and it sounds like his dad, right?” Beato said of Wolfgang's Eruption video. “Well, of course it sounds like his dad – he played guitar with his dad all the time.”