In a spirited tribute to Taylor Hawkins at the deceased Foo Fighters drummer’s memorial event in London, Wolfgang Van Halen performed two Van Halen songs.
The touching encounter occurred during a concert by Chevy Metal and the Coattail Riders, two of Hawkins’ side projects.
“It should come as no surprise that Taylor was a huge Van Halen fan,” Dave Grohl announced to the crowd at Wembley Stadium that the sum of donations received through the YouTube broadcast had reached $15,000 so far. “Remember those tights? We are lucky enough tonight to have with us a real Van Halen. Would you please welcome Mr. Wolfgang Van Halen to the stage right now?”
The young Van Halen started with his father’s band’s hit “On Fire,” foreshadowing at what was to follow, with the Darkness vocalist Justin Hawkins on lead vocals and Grohl on bass. A photo of the late Hawkins with Eddie and Wolfgang Van Halen was also being projected across the stadium.
After watching #taylorhawkinstribute I am curious how the two Van Halen songs were chosen. Both such great ones; would never guessed “On ?” would make the cut, but was amazing live! Perhaps particular favorites of @taylorhawkins ?
— Greg Renoff (@GregRenoff) September 4, 2022
Then, as “Hot for Teachersignature “‘s drum opening kicked in, Eddie Van Halen seemed to pause for a second before launching into his own rendition of his father’s signature shredding. At one crucial time, Grohl scowled menacingly excited as Hawkins held his microphone beneath Van Halen’s hands and shook his head as if wondering how he had gotten there. Van Halen also delivered some vocal harmonies despite the restrictions of the time.
— Casmar (@casmar27) September 3, 2022
The young Van Halen has always refrained from imitating his late father’s guitar antics. When a supporter advised him that the timing was perfect to do so last year, he responded:
“I honor my dad by existing and doing what I do every day. I’m not fuckin’ playing ‘Panama’ for you guys.”
His change of mind was undoubtedly a moving homage to a friend who had passed away, but it also demonstrated something that many people had hoped it would: Wolfgang is entirely capable of performing his pop’s work when the situation calls for it.