Wolfgang Van Halen on EVH Grammys tribute: “Being asked to play Eruption felt like a tone-deaf ask”

Wolfgang Van Halen
(Image credit: Michele Eve Sandberg/Corbis via Getty Images)

Wolfgang Van Halen has gone into more detail about his decision not to perform at the 2021 Grammy Awards in tribute to his late father.

After a 15-second tribute to Eddie Van Halen was aired during the 'In Memoriam' segment of the 63rd Grammy Awards earlier this month, several high-profile rock names – including former Van Halen frontman Gary Cherone and radio personality Eddie Trunk – took to Twitter to voice their discontent.

Wolfgang Van Halen – the late guitar hero's son – also chimed in, stating that he “didn't realize that they would only show Pop for 15 seconds in the middle of four full performances for others we had lost.” 

Further, he revealed that the Recording Academy had asked him to perform EVH solo showcase Eruption, but declined.

Now, in a new interview with Rolling Stone, Wolfgang has shed further light on his decision not to perform.

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

“It just seemed like kind of a tone-deaf ask,” he says. “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. 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.”

Earlier this week, Grammys producer Ben Winston told his side of the story, stating: “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.”

In other news, Wolfgang has just dropped not one, but two new singles – Don't Back Down and Think It Over – from his upcoming debut album as Mammoth WVH, which is set to arrive on June 11.

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Sam Roche

Sam was Staff Writer at GuitarWorld.com from 2019 to 2023, and also created content for Total Guitar, Guitarist and Guitar Player. He has well over 15 years of guitar playing under his belt, as well as a degree in Music Technology (Mixing and Mastering). He's a metalhead through and through, but has a thorough appreciation for all genres of music. In his spare time, Sam creates point-of-view guitar lesson videos on YouTube under the name Sightline Guitar.