Sunday’s Grammys saw numerous tributes to recently deceased artists including John Prine, Little Richard, and Kenny Rogers with full-song performances during the “In Memoriam” section. The annual segment also included a brief tribute to Eddie Van Halen, an homage that the late guitarist’s son Wolfgang apparently thinks was all-too-brief.
In a tweet sent on Monday evening, the former Van Halen bassist revealed that he was invited by the Recording Academy to perform his father’s signature instrumental, “Eruption”, during the broadcast. Wolfgang allegedly turned down the invitation, noting that “I don’t think anyone could have lived up to what my father did for music but himself.” With his refusal of the invitation, Wolfgang was certain that the Grammys would have an equally substantial tribute lineup prepared instead.
So it came as a shock to the 30-year-old multi-instrumentalist, along with thousands of fans across the globe, when the “In Memoriam” tribute to the life and work of Eddie Van Halen merely consisted of a 20-second shot of one of Eddie’s Frankenstein guitars and a brief snippet of him performing “Eruption” in the background. After that, it was on to Mary Wilson of The Supremes.
“What hurt the most was that he wasn’t even mentioned when they talked about artists we lost in the beginning of the show,” Wolfgang wrote on Twitter. “I know rock isn’t the most popular genre right now, (and the academy does seem a bit out of touch) but I think it’s impossible to ignore the legacy my father left on the instrument, the world of rock, and music in general. There will never be another innovator like him.”
The younger Van Halen noted that he’s “not looking to start some kind of hate parade here, I just wanted to explain my side.” Reflecting on his father’s own attitudes toward the music industry, Wolfgang noted, “I know Pops would probably just laugh it off and say ‘Ehh who gives a shit?’ He was only about the music anyway. The rest didn’t matter”.
Wolfgang also noted that he would be open to entering into a dialogue with the Recording Academy about not only his father’s legacy but that of the rock genre he helped propel into a new era. Read Wolfgang’s full statement below, and watch the Eddie Van Halen tribute at the Grammys that started the controversy.
Eddie Van Halen Tribute 2020 Grammys “In Memoriam”
[Video: Justin York]
— Wolf Van Halen (@WolfVanHalen) March 15, 2021