"I know Dad would have been really proud": Wolfgang Van Halen explains why he played two Van Halen songs to honour Taylor Hawkins

Wolfgang Van Halen and Justin Hawkins onstage
(Image credit: Viacom)

Wolfgang Van Halen says that he was "suicidal with nerves" ahead of performing at the Taylor Hawkins tribute concert at London's Wembley Stadium last year, but says that he thinks his father Eddie would have been "really proud".

Speaking to Ultimate Classic Rock about his participation in the star-studded event, which took place on September 3 last year, Van Halen says that he chose to play the Van Halen songs On Fire and Hot For Teacher because they "seemed like the right thing at the time."

"One, I felt like I could handle them. Two, I just really love those songs. They felt like the right epic sort of [songs]. Going back and looking at it, maybe subconsciously I picked On Fire for a reason because that was the very first song I ever played with Van Halen in December of 2006 when I was 15. That was the first song we played when Dave [David Lee Roth] came back. And then Hot For Teacher. Everybody knows and loves Hot for Teacher, and the ending is just so epic. It’s got a really iconic solo and intro. It just seemed like the right thing to do. I know Taylor would have loved it, and I know Dad would have been really proud."

Van Halen reveals that he, Dave Grohl and Josh Freese rehearsed the two songs at Grohl's 606 Studio in LA ahead of the London concert, but that The Darkness' Justin Hawkins, who took lead vocals on the covers, only rehearsed with the trio for the first time on the day before the concert. He also says that he practised the songs "a lot" at home, admitting, "Because I knew, at least in my mind, mistakes were so dire that if I were to ruin it or not play it perfectly, my life would be over."

Asked for his favourite memories of the concert, Van Halen says that he was "just suicidal with nerves" on the day and could barely concentrate on much beyond his own performance, but cites meeting Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones, watching rock supergroup Them Crooked Vultures and Paul McCartney as highlights of his day.

"Being that close to Paul McCartney was pretty crazy," he says. "Just to watch aBeatle  perform a couple of feet in front of you, that was quite an experience. It was definitely a highlight for sure."

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