Wolfgang Van Halen spoke candidly about living as the only child of Eddie Van Halen — arguably the greatest guitarist that ever played the instrument. While promoting his debut album, Mammoth WVH, which drops on June 11th, he shed light on his life experiences to London’s Telegraph.
Wolfgang, who’ll be out on tour this summer and fall opening for Guns N’ Roses, spoke both honestly and lovingly about his late-dad, explaining, “Growing up, he certainly was the secondary parent. But, still, any time he was home, we bonded just as much as any son and father. When we eventually played together, that’s when (our relationship) was the best, because we got to see each other every day.”
He went on to say, “I think I was forced to mature way earlier than people are normally asked to. As wonderful a father as he was, he had a lot of demons. They would come out every now and then. It’s why my parents split.”
Wolfgang, who’s now 30, spoke in-depth about Eddie’s illness and how it affected him, recalling, “He was diagnosed with (stage four) lung cancer (in 2017). We got some good, liveable years, but that was the beginning (of the end), I would say. It really didn’t take a turn for the worse until the end of 2019. There were still positive moments in between, but that’s when it took a nosedive. So many different health issues stacked on top of each other. He just buckled under the weight of it all.”
Wolfgang added, “When you grow up you always know, ‘One day I’ll have to take care of the parent,’ but I didn’t expect it to happen so soon. While it was happening, I was like, ‘OK, it’ll happen later,’ but little did I know I was already in the middle of it.”
While his biggest influence was no doubt his legendary father, Wolfgang told us a while back about some of the other artists who inspired him: “The first band that I actually really dug a lot was Blink-182, because I think Travis Barker is an awesome drummer and I loved how the two singers harmonized — it really got me into, like, harmonizing and drums and stuff. But the big change that got me into like heavier music was probably Tool. I liked the weird time signatures and just how heavy it got — like, Danny Carey is a huge drum influence of mine, and so is Justin Chancellor on the bass.”