Who Cares if Eddie Van Halen’s Grammy Tribute Was Kind of Short?
To which we say: Why were you expecting classic rock at the Grammys? And why do you care what the Grammys think?
The guitar legend, who died at age 65 on Oct. 6, 2020, after a long battle with cancer, was, in fact, included in the show's "In Memoriam" segment during a 20-second clip of soloing as one of his famous striped guitars was spotlighted on the stage. Only Kenny Rogers, Little Richard and John Prine received more in-depth tributes; Lionel Richie, Bruno Mars and Brandi Carlile, respectively, performed two minutes of each artists' music live on the show.
Update: After we published this story, Eddie Van Halen's son Wolfgang revealed that the Grammys did in fact invite him to perform his father's signature guitar piece "Eruption" on the telecast - which would have been an equal tribute to the ones given to Little Richard, Rogers and Prine - and that he declined their offer.
"Maybe an artist that reimagined how one plays an instrument, who continues to influence generations of musicians and literally changed the course of rock 'n' roll deserves more than 15 second[s] at the Grammys?" former Van Halen singer Gary Cherone asked on Twitter.
Eddie Van Halen is one of the most important and influential guitar players in the history of rock music. But the Grammys are a music industry-sponsored event designed to recognize and, more importantly, promote the popular songs and albums released each year. In other words, it's primarily a three-hour long infomercial for modern pop music.
From that point of view, Van Halen haven't released an album since 2012's A Different Kind of Truth and haven't had a Top 40 hit since 1995's "Can't Stop Lovin' You." Scroll down the list of last year's 200 best-selling albums and you won't find a new rock band directly influenced by Van Halen.
And it's not like the Grammys even appreciated Van Halen in their prime. The band wasn't nominated for an award for its groundbreaking 1978 debut or for any album or song until 1984's "Jump." They didn't win one until 1991, for For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, which is a good album but hardly the one from their catalog you'd expect to be chosen for such an honor.
Don't use the Grammys, or the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame or anybody else, as your measuring stick for what music matters. Instead, remember the outpouring of tributes Eddie Van Halen's peers and bandmates shared following his death. Or just play your favorite Van Halen albums as loud and for as long as you'd like.
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