Wolfgang Van Halen recently talked about taking part in the two Taylor Hawkins tribute concerts staged by the Foo Fighters last year, where he played a number of Van Halen hits.
Foo Fighters had celebrated Taylor Hawkins’ memory and music at a special gig in London on Saturday, September 3 last year. Hawkins, the band’s drummer since 1997, died in Bogotá, Colombia on March 25 last year. He was 50 years old.
Foo Fighters performed for a couple of hours at Wembley Stadium for a special tribute show for the late band drummer Taylor Hawkins. ‘The Taylor Hawkins Tribute Concerts’ also took place at LA’s Kia Forum on September 27. Josh Freese recently joined Foo Fighters as their new drummer.
Though Wolf’s relationship to performing his father’s licks could previously be summed up by the quote “I’m not fu**in’ playing ‘Panama’ for you guys”, the Mammoth WVH mastermind decided to break his golden rule and do just that, and more, at the two unforgettable nights dedicated to the late Foo Fighters drummer.
Speaking to Ultimate Classic Rock in a new interview, Wolfgang noted how the impromptu band comprised of himself, Dave Grohl, Taylor’s successor Josh Freese, and The Darkness singer & YouTuber Justin Hawkins had only rehearsed a few times before taking to the stage together. He 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. I had practiced 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]”
He further spoke on the decision to break his rule and perform Van Halen material in public, Wolf 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. 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.”