In the aftermath of last night’s GRAMMY awards ceremony, there was some backlash concerning the tribute to Eddie Van Halen during the “In Memoriam” segment, with Van Halen’s son Wolfgang now addressing how the tribute played out.

The Recording Academy rolled out the list of musicians that had died over the past year as usual, but within the midst of the segment they stopped to have Bruno Mars salute Little Richard, Lionel Richie paying musical tribute to Kenny Rogers and Brandi Carlile singing in honor of John Prine before Brittany Howard and Chris Martin performed “You’ll Never Walk Alone” as more names scrolled across.

When it came to Eddie Van Halen, his was one of the first names in the segment with a short video screened of the guitarist playing “Eruption” as his iconic guitar sat on the stage. Many of the artists didn’t even have bits of their music played. But the lack of a performance or mention of Van Halen, arguably the biggest name in music to have passed over the course of 2020, in the opening monologue when others were mentioned and saluted in full did not sit well with many rock fans.

After viewing the backlash, Wolfgang Van Halen has issued a statement on the matter, in the process revealing that he was approached to perform in honor of his father but declined. That said, Van Halen was not really behind how the death was addressed either. The musician’s statement can be read below:

The GRAMMYS asked me to play ‘Eruption’ for the In Memoriam section and I declined. 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. 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.

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. 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.

Thank you.

Rockers We’ve Lost in 2020





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