Wolfgang Van Halen has opened up about the passing of his father, legendary VAN HALEN guitarist Eddie Van Halen. The 29-year-old spoke about his dad while promoting "Distance", the first single from his solo band MAMMOTH WVH. Wolfgang wrote the song while Eddie battled cancer.
"He had been struggling [with his health] over the years," Wolfgang told Pierre Robert of the Philadelphia radio station 93.3 WMMR (see video below). "It was up and down, but we always had faith that he'd make it through. I'd been working on my album for so long, and it was ready to go, but it was either you wanna go on tour and not be home, or do you wanna spend time with your dad. And I think I made the right choice."
Asked how his dealing with the loss of his father two months after his passing, Wolfgang said: "I think being so fresh in this, it really doesn't ever seem like I'm gonna be a hundred percent again. It's more of just that you kind of live with this empty space and you just kind of figure out how to carry it a bit better rather than fill it.
"My father's pride and belief in me is what keeps me going," he explained. "And I feel closest to him in the music — just in the music world and playing music. So I'm really looking forward to getting this album out come late spring-ish, so everybody can hear it. 'Cause they enjoyed 'Distance' so much, I'm excited to see what they think of everything else."
"Distance" is an open letter to Wolfgang's father — one he was fortunate to play for his dad and would become a favorite of Eddie's — declaring "no matter what the distance is, I will be with you." The video for the song is created from a collection of family home movies through the years and offers an inside look in to one of music's most notable personalities. Chronicling the family through the years, the video ends with a touching voicemail left from Eddie to his son.
Wolfgang played every instrument and sang each and every note on the MAMMOTH WVH LP, which is tentatively due in early 2021 via Explorer1 Music Group/EX1 Records. The group's touring lineup will feature Wolfgang on guitar and lead vocals, Frank Sidoris (SLASH FEATURING MYLES KENNEDY AND THE CONSPIRATORS) on guitar, Garrett Whitlock (TREMONTI) on drums, and Ronnie Ficarro on bass.
Last month, Wolfgang confirmed that he asked his father for permission to use the MAMMOTH WVH band name for his solo project. MAMMOTH WVH is a nod to family history — Eddie and Alex Van Halen's band was called MAMMOTH when singer David Lee Roth first joined it in 1974.
Wolfgang joined his father in VAN HALEN for the band's 2007 reunion tour with Roth, replacing Michael Anthony.
Eddie died on October 6 at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California. The iconic VAN HALEN axeman died from complications due to cancer, his son confirmed.
Photo credit: Travis Shinn