“I’d much rather fail on my own than succeed heartlessly by playing Panama”: Why Wolfgang Van Halen won’t be covering Van Halen songs anymore

“I’m my own person, I’m my own musician.”

Wolfgang Van Halen Performing Live

Image: Scott Legato / Getty Images

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Last year’s Taylor Hawkins tribute concert might very well be the last time we see Wolfgang Van Halen cover his father’s band.

The Mammoth WVH guitarist — who played On Fire, Hot For Teacher and Panama at the event — said of the performance on the Talk Is Jericho podcast [via Louder]: “It was wonderful. It was the exception where it was like, this would be the time to do it.”

“Taylor was such a huge fan and to get my own satisfaction of doing a direct Van Halen tribute for dad, it felt like the right thing to do in that moment. I’m really proud of it.”

Wolfgang also talks about the surreal experience of sharing a stage with The Darkness frontman Justin Hawkins, and Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl and Josh Freese, saying, “Taking away all the context and the emotional moment and jamming with three musicians I’ve looked up to my whole life was crazy.”

“Then you put everything back in and it’s like man I can’t believe I pulled that off.”

That said, Wolfgang maintains that the event is a one-off and that he has no plans to perform songs from his father’s band moving forward.

“I’m happy to be able to prove myself,” he says. “The important key distinction is that I’m not doing what my dad did, I’m my own person, I’m my own musician… it’s why I don’t play any Van Halen music or have a plan to play Van Halen music during my sets.”

“Even my dad hated doing covers back in the day, his quote resonates with me all the time where he says I’d rather bomb with my own music than succeed with somebody else’s, and that’s exactly how I feel about playing Van Halen music.”

“I’d much rather fail on my own than succeed heartlessly by playing Panama.”

In related news, Wolfgang has spoken about the weight that comes with carrying the Van Halen name, saying “I’m not a person to some people. I’m just an extension of the name.”

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