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Wolfgang Van Halen Declined a Request to Play "Eruption" at the Grammys

Eddie Van Halen (left) and Wolfgang Van Halen perform live in 2015
(Image credit: Chris McKay/Getty Images for Live Nation)

Wolfgang Van Halen has revealed (opens in new tab) that he turned down a request by The Recording Academy to perform "Eruption" – as a tribute to his late father, Eddie – at the 2021 Grammy Awards. 

The ceremony – which was broadcast this past Sunday, March 14 – has been criticized (opens in new tab) for insufficiently highlighting and paying tribute to Eddie Van Halen. 

While a 20-second archival clip of Eddie playing a live "Eruption" solo – while a spotlight shone on his Frankenstrat – was shown on the broadcast, fans pointed out that John Prine, Little Richard, and Kenny Rogers were each given individual tribute performances.   

In a Twitter post, Wolfgang said he turned down The Recording Academy's request because, in his words, “I don't think anyone could have lived up to what my father did for music but himself.”

“It was my understanding that there would be an 'In Memoriam' section where bits of songs were performed for legendary artists that had passed," Wolfgang continued. "I didn't realize that they would only show Pop for 15 seconds in the middle of four full performances for others we had lost.

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“What hurt the most was that he wasn't even mentioned when they talked about artists we lost in the beginning of the show.

“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.

“I'm not looking to start some kind of hate parade here, I just wanted to explain my side,” he continued. “I know Pop 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.

“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 award for Best Rock Album at this year's ceremony went to The Strokes, for The New Abnormal, while Best Rock Song went to Brittany Howard, for "Stay High."

Jackson Maxwell
Jackson Maxwell

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.