Eddie Van Halen Thought the First Van Halen Album "Sounded Like Shit," According to Wolfgang

Eddie Van Halen performs with Van Halen at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago on March 4, 1978
(Image credit: Paul Natkin/Getty Images)

This Friday, June 11, Wolfgang Van Halen will finally release the long-anticipated, self-titled debut album from his Mammoth WVH project. 

To promote it, he recently sat down with Total Guitar, where he discussed the album, gear, his connection with his late father – Eddie Van Halen – and much more. Along the way, he also relayed an amusing anecdote about how his father's attitude towards gear changed over time, much to the shock of some famous admirers. 

Discussing which famous pieces of his father's gear he used for Mammoth WVH, Wolfgang was asked if he knew the whereabouts of the legendary 100 watt Marshall 1959 model his father used on the early Van Halen albums, to which he said: “Yeah. I’m not gonna tell people where it is, but it’s in our hands and it’s being kept safe.“

When asked whether or not it had been damaged at some point, Wolfgang said:

“I’m sure it was at some point. Dad definitely fixed it up over the years, but he kind of just evolved past the sound." 

He then added, "When were on the 2012 tour, [Pearl Jam’s] Mike McCready and Eddie Vedder came backstage. Mike was talking to Dad. He said, 'Oh man, the first Van Halen album sounded so good.' My dad growls, 'It sounded like shit!' Mike was just like, 'Oh, okay. Well... I liked it.'“

When Total Guitar pointed out that there were entire forums dedicated to reproducing the sound of Van Halen's self-titled debut, Wolfgang said ”I think Dad would rather have people not try and sound like him but sound like themselves. You know, tastes change over time. Obviously he was super-happy with all the 5150s as he kept building on them.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Wolfgang discussed using the original Frankenstein guitar for two of the album's tracks, "Mammoth" and "Feel,“ saying “You feel the history. 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."

For the full interview with Wolfgang Van Halen, pick up a copy of Total Guitar from Magazines Direct.

Jackson Maxwell
Associate Editor, GuitarWorld.com and GuitarPlayer.com

Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com and GuitarPlayer.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.