“If I were to ruin it or not play it perfectly, my life would be over” Wolfgang Van Halen reflects on Taylor Hawkins tribute performance

“I had practised a lot at home,” the rocker admits.

Wolfgang Van Halen and Taylor Hawkins of Foo Fighters

Image: Scott Legato / Robert Knight Archive / Getty Images

Wolfgang Van Halen has opened up about the preparations — or lack thereof — leading up to his nerve-racking performance at Taylor Hawkins’ tribute show last September.

Speaking to Ultimate Classic Rock, Wolfgang explained that the group — comprising The Darkness’ Justin Hawkins, Josh Freese, Dave Grohl and himself — had only rehearsed a handful of times before taking stage at Wembley Stadium to honour the late Foo Fighters drummer.

Of the experience, Wolfgang said, “Justin is a pro. We had only played it the day before the show together. Prior to going over to London, Josh Freese, Dave and I had played a bunch at the Foos’ studio. But other than that, Justin came to a rehearsal space at Wembley and we played [our set] two or three times.”

“Then we went to the stage for the dress rehearsal, played it once, and that was it. We came in the next day and did the show.”

“Realistically, we played it together maybe five or six times and then we went right into it,” he added. “I had practised a lot at home. 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. [Laughs]”

As for the reason he chose a pair of Van Halen songs to perform, the Mammoth WVH rocker said, “It just 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,” Wolfgang explained. “That was the first song we played when [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.”


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