Thanks to a global health crisis and the inevitable passage of time, 2020 found musicians and fans mourning the losses of some of their favorites. For rock lovers, perhaps no death may have been more impactful last year than when Eddie Van Halen lost his yearslong battles with cancer.
Read More: Eddie Van Halen (1955-2020)
After the Grammy Awards aired Sunday, March 14, some felt the guitarist didn't get his due in a lengthy In Memoriam that featured spotlight tributes to Little Richard, Kenny Rogers and John Prine. While a live clip of Van Halen performing "Eruption" was used during the sequence - and indeed, the telecast noted a separate page of their website that would list everyone that was not included on the air - some felt it didn't go far enough.
Sirius XM personality Eddie Trunk didn't hold back his feelings at the "shame & disrespect" with which he felt the Recording Academy treated Van Halen's memory.
So in a more than 3 hour show, with 5 months to prepare, this is all #GRAMMYs could muster for one of the most iconic impactful artists in music history... they reached new levels of shame & disrespect. I am besides myself. #FuckTheGrammys pic.twitter.com/YRaX55WFWW— Eddie Trunk (@EddieTrunk) March 15, 2021
As reactions reached a fever pitch, it fell to Wolfgang Van Halen, Eddie's son and former bassist in the band, to address the controversy. He took to Twitter to tell fans that he declined the Academy's request to perform "Eruption" ("I don't think anyone could have lived up to what my father did for music but himself") and shared his feelings on the Grammys' shaky relationship with guitar-based rock as a concept.
"What hurt the most was that he wasn't even mentioned when they talked about artists we lost in the beginning of the show," Wolfgang wrote. "I know rock isn't the most popular genre out there...but I think it's impossible to ignore the legacy my father left on the instrument, the world of rock, and music in general." He also expressed interest in talking with members of the academy about both his father's legacy and rock music as a whole.
Van Halen's forthcoming solo album, released under the name Mammoth WVH, is due in June and includes the track "Distance," a moving tribute to his legendary father.