Wolfgang Van Halen Covers Van Halen at Taylor Hawkins Tribute

Wolfgang Van Halen knocked out a couple Van Halen tunes in a high-energy tribute to Taylor Hawkins of late Foo Fighters drummer memorial concert in London.

The emotional moment came during a set performed by members of Hawkins’ side project bands, Chevy Metal and the Coattail Riders.

“It should come as no surprise that Taylor was a huge Van Halen fan,” Dave Grohl told the Wembley Stadium crowd as the total contributed via the YouTube live stream reached $15,000. “Remember those tights? We’re so lucky tonight to have a real Van Halen with us. Would you please welcome Mr. Wolfgang Van Halen to the stage right now?”

With Darkness frontman Justin Hawkins on lead vocals and Grohl on bass – and a picture of the late Hawkins with Eddie and Wolfgang Van Halen are shown around the stadium – the younger Van Halen opened with his father’s band’s track “On Fire,” hinting at what was to come.

After that, as the unmistakable drum intro to “Hot for Teacher” began, Van Halen seemed to take a moment before breaking out into his own take on his father’s trademark shredding. At a key moment, Hawkins held his microphone under Van Halen’s hands and shook his head as if wondering how he got there, while Grohl glowered with menacing excitement. Despite the demands of the moment, Van Halen even managed to deliver some vocal harmonies.

Watch Wolfgang Van Halen Cover ‘Hot for Teacher’

The younger Van Halen has steadfastly refused to emulate his late father’s guitar theatrics. Last year, in response to a fan who told him the time had come to do so, he replied: “I honor my father by existing and doing what I do every day. I’m not playing ‘Panama’ for you.” His change of heart was clearly an emotional tribute to a lost friend, but it also proved a point many hoped to have proven: that Wolfgang is more than capable of playing his pop music when the occasion calls for it.

The Van Halen covers set followed a series of covers of Hawkins-penned songs, including “It’s Over” and “Louise,” featuring members of his other bands and Justin Hawkins on lead vocals. Before that, pop star Kesha had delivered a breathtaking, beastly cover of T. Rex“Children of the Revolution”.

“Taylor would have loved to see all of you come out,” Chevy Metal bassist Wiley Hodgden told the crowd. “He’d be laughing – his brothers have just played Wembley!”

Van Halen has long been vocal about his love for Foo Fighters’ music and noted that it played a large role in how he took his own first steps with the project that became Mammoth WVH. “I have always admired Dave Grohl and how he made the first Foo Fighters album,” he told UCR during a 2021 interview. “It was definitely a big inspiration.”

He was quick to hail as the news of Hawkins’ death circulated and took the stage in Boston the following day, offers up one emotional version of the Foos’ “My Hero,” which he said the band had prepared earlier in the afternoon ahead of tonight’s concert. “He was a hero to me and a hero to all of us and a hero to countless people, so we feel it’s necessary,” he told fans.

The song remained on the band’s set list for the series that followed, and during an April 2022 interview with Q104.3told Van Halen that while his personal meetings with Hawkins were not frequent, they were extremely meaningful.

Hawkins had come backstage at Van Halen date in San Diego at the band’s Another kind of truth tour in 2012, regaling both Wolfgang and his father with a flood of stories. The younger Van Halen, who had seen the drummer and the Foo Fighters live numerous times, was thrilled.

“He told me he and Dave Grohl had been listening Another kind of truth album and he specifically told me they were geeking out on the song “China town“where I hit the intro with Pop,” Van Halen recalled. “And they were like, ‘That’s so amazing.’ And it blew my mind as a 21-year-old person – God, I’m 31 now – that Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins had been sitting around geeking out at me playing bass. It blew my mind.”

Share a picture of the moment on Instagram, Van Halen noted how important and inspiring Hawkins had been to him. “He was such a ridiculously friendly man. The guy just oozed cool,” Van Halen wrote. “Him, my pops and I talked as long as we could until we had to go. An incredible drummer and singer, he was a constant inspiration to me throughout my life. It’s like a kick in the gut.”

Hawkins will receive a second round of honors at an additional tribute concert scheduled for September. 27 in Los Angeles.

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