Wolfgang Van Halen premieres touching musical tribute to father Eddie: ‘I love and miss you, Pop’

Lyndsey Parker
·Editor in Chief, Yahoo Music
·3 min read

Just a little over a month after guitar great Eddie Van Halen died of throat cancer at age 65, his son Wolfgang Van Halen has released a tear-jerking musical tribute by his new solo project, Mammoth WVH. Wolfgang put Mammoth WVH on hold when Eddie’s cancer returned so he could be by his father’s side, but he was writing music continuously during this time, and “Distance” — an “open letter” to his dad, with the chorus of “No matter what the distance is, I will be with you” — is the touching result.

The music video for the rock power ballad is composed entirely of rare home movie footage of Eddie and Wolfgang through the years, from frolicking on the beach with Wolfgang’s mother and Eddie’s first wife, Valerie Bertinelli, to jamming in their home studio and sharing the stage with David Lee Roth after Wolfgang joined the Van Halen lineup on bass in 2006. The “Distance” video heartbreakingly ends with a sweet “I love you” message that Eddie left on Wolfgang’s voicemail.

“As my pop continued to struggle with various health issues, I was imagining what my life would be like without him and how terribly I’d miss him. While the song is incredibly personal, I think anyone can relate to the idea of having a profound loss in their life,” Wolfgang explained in a statement. “I never intended ‘Distance’ to be the very first piece of music people would hear from me, but I also thought my father would be here to celebrate its release. This is for him. I love and miss you, Pop.”

Wolfgang’s statement goes on to note that Eddie was able to hear the song (on which Wolfgang plays all the instruments) before his death, and it was one of his favorite Mammoth WVH tracks. A portion of the proceeds from “Distance” will go to a charitable organization that was near and dear to the elder Van Halen’s heart, the Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation, which supports music education for economically disadvantaged youth by donating instruments to underfunded music programs.

On Monday, the same day that “Distance” dropped, Wolfgang granted an exclusive interview with Howard Stern, during which he revealed that there had been talks to stage a grand-scale Van Halen reunion that would have included band members of the past and present — including original bassist Michael Anthony, whom Wolfgang replaced.

“It probably would be important to touch on those reunion rumors from maybe a year ago that were very real,” Wolfgang told Stern. “Since 2015, I had been talking with Dad and was introducing the idea, because like, he knew I was doing my music. So I would be like, ‘Hey Dad, you know, it would be cool — hear me out — you know what would be cool is, what if I opened for you guys, and we had Mike come back?’ And initially my dad was like, ‘Well, you gotta be up there too. ... We can figure it out.’ But as time went on, he warmed up to the idea. I got him excited about it. And at a certain point, it turned into what we joked as ‘The Kitchen Sink Tour,’ because after he was OK with that arrangement, it was like, ‘Then let's get Dave and [Sammy] Hagar and even [Gary] Cherone, and let's just do a giant, awesome thing.’”

Mammoth WVH’s debut full-length album is set to come out in early 2021 via Explorer1 Music Group/EX1 Records.

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