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Wolfgang Van Halen says his father cried the first time he played him “Distance”

Eddie Van Halen and Wolfgang Van Halen of Van Halen perform during "A Different Kind of Truth" tour at Madison Square Garden on February 28, 2012 in New York City.
(Image credit: Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

Wolfgang Van Halen released his first solo song, Distance, in the weeks following the death of his father, electric guitar legend Eddie Van Halen, at the age of 65 following a long battle with cancer.

And while Distance is a tribute to his dad, it also was written and recorded well before his father’s passing. In a new interview with Lou Brutus, Wolf recalled playing the song for Eddie.

“I remember when I showed it to dad for the first time, maybe it was out of pride or also just the song in general, he cried when he heard it,” Van Halen said. “I don't think he was aware of the significance of it for me – he just understood it as a song about loss."

As previously reported, Wolfgang has said that Distance “is a song that was initially written for the debut album, but was going to be held for a later time. As my pop continued to struggle with various health issues, I was imagining what my life would be like without him and how terribly I'd miss him. While this song is incredibly personal, I think anyone can relate to the idea of having a profound loss in their own life.”

In the Brutus interview, Wolf goes on to remark that he was surprised at the incredibly positive response to the song.

“I think it allowed a sense of closure for many people, in a way, which was something I wasn't expecting," he said.

"It was just kind of a thing for me to put out there and be, like, 'This is for Dad.' But to see not only such a huge amount of people get closure for my father's life, in a way, but to have so many people relate to it in general with a loss of their own, because this year has just been so awful."

He continued, "I tend to write my lyrics from a perspective where it's like, I may be drawing from personal experience but I like to write it in a way where somebody can derive their own meaning from it. And it was really nice to see that happen to a certain extent, because I think anybody can relate to a monumental loss in their life."

As for the next few years, Wolfgang concludes to Brutus that he’ll be recording and releasing music with his band, Mammoth WVH, “as long as people want to hear it. Even if people don’t want to hear it. I want to be making music. I’m real excited for everyone to hear the [debut] album.”

Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.