Grammys executive producer Ben Winston has responded to criticism of its tribute to the late Eddie Van Halen, which sparked anger from some fans for being too brief. Van Halen’s son Wolfgang also said that he felt “hurt” by the lack of a larger tribute.
Speaking to Variety, Winston noted that “we had a call with Wolfgang’s rep before the show, and I asked if he’d be willing to come on and play. He said he didn’t really want to do that, and I offered up eight or nine guitarists who maybe could. But instead, he felt like we should play a video of Eddie himself, because nobody could play like him, so that’s what we did.”
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Winston also said that there was pressure on the segment, from the number of artists submitted: “The regret I have is that I think 970 names were submitted for In Memoriam this year, and you can only put… usually it’s 35 to 45 and this year we did 60. I wish we could have done more.”
Despite these limitations, Winston said that Van Halen’s moment was appropriate given his legacy. “I would have loved for it to be longer than it was,” he said, “but Eddie was the only person in the whole “In Memoriam” to play their own music, with no other faces being seen.
“I felt that was an appropriate tribute to him, but if Wolfgang didn’t, I’m sorry about that, of course – it’s such a horrific thing to lose a parent. We did the best that we felt we could.”
Wolfgang Van Halen’s statement also revealed that he had declined the opportunity to perform at the ceremony. “The Grammys asked me to play Eruption for the In Memoriam section and I declined,” he wrote. “I don’t think anyone could have lived up to what my father did for music but himself.”
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