The two tribute concerts put on for late Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins were emotional for many people for a host of reasons. For Wolfgang Van Halen, it was a combination of feelings regarding the loss of Hawkins and his late father, Eddie Van Halen. Between the two shows, Wolfgang Van Halen performed three Van Halen songs—”On Fire,” “Hot for Teacher” and “Panama”—alongside Dave Grohl, Justin Hawkins and Josh Freese.
“It was emotional,” Van Halen admitted. “It’s not something I take lightly at all. In fact, at first I wasn’t even sure if I was going to be able to do it. When I talked to Dave Grohl, he asked, and I was, like, ‘You know what? I’m not sure. I have to think about it.’ I put some time into thinking about it and what I’d be comfortable doing. Because it’s been my sort of mission statement with Mammoth that I don’t want to play any Van Halen music, because I would much rather — as my father said when he was getting sick of playing covers with Van Halen — bomb with my own material than succeed with somebody else’s. And I really would rather build something from scratch from my own and make my own name for myself to the best of my ability. So, I didn’t take it lightly.”
He said that while playing those songs without his father was hard, he found a bit of catharsis in the performances.
“Also, I don’t want to play that music without my dad, and he’s not here anymore. So, that means I don’t want to play it. Knowing that it was for Taylor and I know he was such a champion of my father — after he passed, he always wore the striped shorts and shirts of my dad at shows — it just felt like the right thing to do. Not so much say goodbye to that material, but just to kind of put it to rest a little bit in my mind — on my own terms. And taking the emotional weight of it all, and just playing with three musicians I looked up to my whole life was quite the incredible experience. I’ll never forget it.”
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