Following heavy criticism from rock fans and artists alike, Grammy producers have weighed in regarding the Eddie Van Halen tribute during the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards that took place on March 14.
In an interview with Variety, Grammy executive producer Ben Winston said regarding the tribute, “…We had a call with [Van Halen’s son] Wolfgang’s rep before the show, and I asked if he’d be willing to come on and play. He said he didn’t really want to do that, and I offered up eight or nine guitarists who maybe could. But instead, he felt like we should play a video of Eddie himself, because nobody could play like him, so that’s what we did.”
Winston added, “I would have loved for it to be longer than it was, but Eddie was the only person in the whole ‘In Memoriam’ to play their own music, with no other faces being seen. I felt that was an appropriate tribute to him, but if Wolfgang didn’t, I’m sorry about that, of course — it’s such a horrific thing to lose a parent. We did the best that we felt we could.”
Following the ceremony and unsatisfied fan reaction, Wolfgang Van Halen took to social media to respond to the tribute to his late father.
“The GRAMMYs asked me to play ‘Eruption’ for the ‘In Memoriam’ section and I declined,” began Wolfgang. “I don’t think anyone could have lived up to what my father did for music but himself.”
He continued, “It was my understanding that there would be an ‘In Memoriam’ section where bits of songs were performed for legendary artists that had passed. 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. ”
Wolfgang added, “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.”
He continued, “I’m not looking to start some kind of hate parade here, I just wanted to explain my side. I know Pop would probably just laugh it off and say, ‘Ehh who gives a s—?’ He was only about the music anyway. The rest didn’t matter.”
Wolfgang concluded, “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. Thank you.”