This past August marked twenty years since my father passed, and Wolfgang Van Halen has now released a song that can help make that loss easier for me.
Wolfgang, 29, was Eddie’s only son, and he also played bass in Van Halen from 2007 until the band officially ended when his father succumbed to throat cancer on October 6 of this year.
Released under the band name Mammoth WVH, with Mammoth referring to Van Halen’s original band name, Wolfgang sings and plays all the instruments on the record.
The song expresses how Wolfgang imagined he would feel once his father had been released from all of the pain and struggle of his battle with the disease. “As my pop continued to struggle with various health issues, I was imagining what my life would be without him and how terribly I’d miss him,” the younger Van Halen said.
The song would be touching enough on its own, but it accompanies a video comprised of a collection of home movie clips of the Van Halens, along with Wolfgang’s mother, actress Valerie Bertinelli, which really show the special bond the father and son shared. If these clips are any indication, Eddie Van Halen was an even more impressive father than he was a guitarist.
I began by mentioning my own father’s passing because hearing this song brought home something someone said to me not long after he died. I was tired of hearing “I’m sorry for your loss” and “Let us know if there is anything we can do.” (Of course people have to say those things, but anyone who has ever suffered such a loss realize it gets tiring hearing them.)
Then, I had one man who said something to this effect to me. He said, “I heard your father passed away.” I said that he had, and braced myself for more of the same condolences. What he said knocked me for a loop. “Congratulations,” was what he said to me.
My look was puzzled, to say the least. “Not what you were expecting me to say, is it?” I told him that it wasn’t. “I know,” he said. “A man said the same thing to me when my father passed, and I had the same reaction. Then he explained himself to me. He said he was congratulating me because a man can’t fully become the man he is destined to be until his father dies.”
It was an interesting thought, yes, and perhaps a bit odd, but it comforted me and strengthened my purpose in life.
It comes to mind as I listen to this song. It’s sad that Eddie Van Halen has passed, but it’s going to be interesting to see what all Wolfgang can bring to the world, now that he can fully become them man he is destined to be. If this song and tribute are any indication, we might expect great things indeed.