The Untold Truth Of Wolfgang Van Halen

Wolfgang Van Halen was all of 16 years old the year he stepped into Dad's work environment to replace long-time Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony. It depends on who you ask, whether Anthony quit or was fired or edged out or — well, however the story goes down, in 2007, 16-year-old Wolfgang, on bass, joined his father, Eddie, on guitar, and uncle, Alex, on drums, for an even more Van Halen Van Halen.

In various incarnations, including David Lee Roth, Sammy Haggar, and Gary Cherone as frontmen, Van Halen came together in 1974, says Biography. Eddie married actor Valerie Bertinelli in 1981, and from that union emerged Wolfgang in 1990. In 2007 Rolling Stone quoted Michael Anthony, former bassist with Van Halen: "Wolfgang is a great kid, so don't judge him too harshly. I'm sure he'll do just fine!!" Uncle Alex told reporters at the press conference announcing the new lineup's tour dates: "I can describe Wolfie in two words. DNA."

At first, it had to have been difficult. No question but that Eddie loved his son, but did Wolfgang really want to hang out with his dad and uncle and that generation of musicians?

Wolfgang was a teenager when he started sharing the stage with his father

Filmmaker Andrew Bennett told Billboard that at first, Wolfgang "seemed like a really bored teenager working a summer job. He never complained, but he didn't look like he was having the time of his life either." It was his belief that Eddie was overjoyed to share his profession with his son. "Eddie talked to him like a band member. Eddie would die for Wolfgang. He would kill for him."

In July 2020, Rolling Stone reported that Wolfgang was working on his debut solo album (though there had been rumors about the album for a couple of years already): "I'm fully prepared for a wave of hate when my music releases because it won't be what people think it'll be," said Wolfgang. "I'm not trying to be my father; I'm trying to be me."

His mother has also talked about letting Wolfgang follow his own path. She told Good Housekeeping, "I'm finding the fine line of staying out of his business and still staying connected ... Because when he was little, it was just like, I would hate to put him down — my whole world was him. And I loved it that way. And that's the way it should have been. But now, he's got his own life. So I try to stay out."

Wolfgang was the third Van Halen in Van Halen

Van Halen (the band) hasn't performed since 2015, and their last studio album dropped in 2012; David Lee Roth (who, yes, was back yet again) started doing solo shows in early 2020 and seemed to indicate the band was over and done.

People are people, wherever you go, and music is music — at least, that seems to be Wolfgang's attitude toward the family business. Rolling Stone quoted him in late 2019: "Music is supposed to bring us together, not divide us. Listen to what you want and don't shame others for not knowing what you like."

Music it was that brought Eddie and Wolfgang together as more than father and son when Wolfgang was a teen. But interwoven through those times of shared music was Eddie's long-time substance abuse. Andrew Bennett, quoted in Billboard, observed the toll it took on Wolfgang, watching his father deal with long-standing demons involving alcohol and drugs. Wolfgang "would be pretty solemn" during those times in the studio. "You could tell it was bothering him," said Bennett. "He wasn't angry or jaded, he was just really sad. He wished his dad wasn't in so much pain, and he wished there was something he could do. And Eddie was aware."

Wolfgang was with his father at the end

After a long battle with various cancers, Eddie Van Halen, 65, died October 6. With that tragic news came the heartbreaking information that Wolfgang was among those at his bedside at the end. With Wolfgang were his mother, Valerie Bertinelli; Eddie's wife, Janie; and Eddie's brother, Alex, the drummer for Van Halen, reports TMZ, adding that the last 72 hours had been especially difficult as Eddie's health made a rapid descent.

Wolfgang shared the news of his loss via Instagram: "I can't believe I'm having to write this, but my father, Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, has lost his long and arduous battle with cancer this morning. He was the best father I could ever ask for. Every moment I've shared with him on and off stage was a gift. My heart is broken and I don't think I'll ever fully recover from this loss. I love you so much, Pop."