Joe Satriani hails Wolfgang Van Halen's Taylor Hawkins tribute gig performances as "the most natural, beautiful thing I’d seen in a long time"

Wolfgang Can Halen onstage in LA with Justin Hawkins, Dave Grohl and Josh Freese
(Image credit: blinditachil7)

Joe Satriani is full of praise for Wolfgang Van Halen's performances at the star-studded, and emotional, Taylor Hawkins tribute shows in London and Los Angeles, hailing the Mammoth WVH frontman's playing as "the most natural, beautiful thing I’d seen in a long time."

And speaking with Ultimate Classic Rock, the San Francisco-based guitarist suggests that if a tribute concert or tour honouring the life, music and legacy of the late Eddie Van Halen were ever to take place, then Wolfgang VH would be the best choice to play guitar at the show(s). 

As previously reported, Satriani was involved in tentative plans to put together a tour saluting the memory of the legendary Dutch-born guitarist, but, as yet, these plans have come to nothing.

At the first Taylor Hawkins Tribute Concert, held at London's Wembley Stadium last month, Wolfgang Van Halen was joined by Dave Grohl on bass, Josh Freese on drums and The Darkness' Justin Hawkins on vocals for an electrifying blast through two Van Halen classics: On Fire from Van Halen's debut album and Hot For Teacher from 1984. In Los Angeles the same four musicians joined forces again to perform a brace of 1984 anthems, Panama and Hot For Teacher, with Wolfgang once again demonstrating a striking mastery of his late father's playing and tone. 

“When I saw Wolfgang playing at the Taylor Hawkins benefit, I thought it was the most natural, beautiful thing I’d seen in a long time," Satriani tells Ultimate Classic Rock.

“It was such a wonderful thing to see him play his dad’s music like that, and he’s such an incredible musician. I thought, ‘Well, if the thing is ever gonna happen, he should do it.’ It just seemed more natural than reaching out to somebody like me.

“So, the world should just wait for him to make up his mind how he wants to do it, and we should leave him alone, [and] let him figure out the best time and place for it. Whatever he comes up with will be the best way to do it, I think.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Satriani admits to having misgivings about signing on to play guitar in any proposed Van Halen tribute concert or tour.

“I jokingly told them on that first phone call that if I had half a brain I’d hang up right away and not accept such a crazy offer, ‘cause nobody can replace Eddie, and whoever tries to do it is gonna get a whole lot of negativity from the world of social media,” he says.

“But I heard myself saying ‘yes’ before my better judgment kicked in, because I am such a fan of Eddie and his work.”

Wolfgang Van Halen is currently working on his second solo album as Mammoth WVH.

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.