grammys 2021

Wolf Van Halen Calls Out the Grammys’ Tribute to Eddie

Eddie Van Halen, who died in October 2020. Photo: Daniel Knighton/Getty Images

The Grammys paid tribute to dozens of artists during the March 14 ceremony, including the late guitarist Eddie Van Halen. An excerpt of his legendary “Eruption” solo was played. Now, his son, Wolf, is speaking out about how the awards handled his father’s legacy. “I didn’t realize that they would only show Pop for 15 seconds in the middle of 4 full performances for others we had lost,” Wolf wrote in a late March 15 Instagram post. He said he thought the “In Memoriam” would feature more songs; instead, musicians performed full song tributes to Little Richard, Kenny Rogers, John Prine, and Gerry Marsden. A guitarist himself, Wolf said he turned down a chance to perform “Eruption” himself during the “In Memoriam” segment. “I don’t think anyone could have lived up to what my father did for music but himself,” he wrote.

But Eddie not being mentioned among other late artists remembered at the beginning of the show was “what hurt the most,” Wolf added. “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,” he wrote. “There will never be another innovator like him.” The band Van Halen has one Grammy from just five nominations, for Best Hard Rock Performance from 1992. Wolf went on to address rock itself in the Academy, writing, “I’d love to get the opportunity to speak with The Recording Academy not only about the legacy of my father, but the legacy of the Rock genre moving forward.” The Academy’s treatment of rock music in recent years has been confusing for fans, with the Best Rock Performance and Rock Song categories often dominated by songs from Best Alternative Music Album nominees. And of the nominees in Record, Album, and Song of the Year this year, only Haim’s album Women in Music Pt. III also received a rock nomination, in Best Rock Performance for the track “The Steps.”

Wolf did admit that the tribute wouldn’t have affected his father. “I know Pop would probably just laugh it off and say ‘Ehh who gives a shit?’” he wrote. “He was only about the music anyway. The rest didn’t matter.”

Wolf Van Halen Calls Out the Grammys’ Tribute to Eddie