Grammys Producer Defends 2021 EVH Tribute, Rock’s Representation on Awards Show
On Sunday (April 3), Grammy Awards producer David Wild spoke to rock music's place on the awards show while defending last year's "In Memoriam" tribute to the late Van Halen guitarist Eddie Van Halen, which some musicians and viewers criticized as too brief.
Wild's remarks came the same day the 64th Annual Grammy Awards omitted Slipknot's Joey Jordison and other rockers from 2022's portion of the ceremony honoring artists who've died since last year. Yet Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins, who died last month, was honored with a tribute. And the Foos won all three awards for which they were nominated. So where exactly does rock currently stand with the Grammys?
Asked if the Grammys neglects rock, Wild told The Mitch Lafon and Jeremy White Show podcast (as seen in the video below), "I would never say — it's not that the music is not good enough, it is that there are trends about what is dominant in the culture. And I am a rock guy, in a broad sense, but that's the core of what I listen to. It's very important to me. I understand some of the criticism. Some of it is completely inappropriate and just not true." (via Ultimate Guitar)
He continued, "Like last year [with the Van Halen tribute] … we were criticized for only showing a film clip of him doing 'Eruption' lines. … What happened was, we went and said — to the family, to the estate — we [said], 'We have these people who could perform something. If Wolfgang wants to do something, he can do that.'"
Instead, what it ended up being was an approximately 20-second spotlight on Van Halen's signature "Frankenstrat" guitar, the icon's photo in the background as the signature Van Halen instrumental "Eruption" played. At the time, radio personality Eddie Trunk was among those who voiced displeasure at the tribute — he said he was "beyond outraged and disgusted" there wasn't a more substantial memorial.
It was first reported last year that Wolfgang Van Halen, Eddie's son, had been asked to perform in his father's honor. Wolf, after replacing bassist Michael Anthony in 2006, performed alongside his dad in Van Halen until Eddie's death in 2020. Switching to vocals and guitar, Wolf released his debut with the Mammoth WVH in 2021.
Read the rest of Wild's explanation about the Grammys' EVH tribute below, followed by a clip from his appearance on Sunday's The Mitch Lafon and Jeremy White Show.
They said, 'No one should perform it.' You know, that was a very, absolutely — there was not like they wanted to say, 'Only if you can get so and so,' it was [that] they didn't want anyone, so we had to find the video. And just to show you how tough this stuff can get — there is very little footage of Van Halen.
They did not exploit their catalogue, barely at all, there were not that many video releases, I literally had to personally research that the US Festival — which was one of the highlights of their [career] — I had to find out that the US festival is was only available for like an hour and a half on *something*. We had to find the right to use [the footage] — and I wanted to use 'Eruption' because it was the family's desire not to have something with a vocal [so as not] to choose [between] Sammy [Hagar] who's a friend, or David [Lee Roth] who I knew for a while…
It was to showcase Edward. So that's what we did. And yet there was criticism, and it was frustrating to me, I will tell you. I'm not good friends with him, but I know Eddie Trunk and we're friendly. And knowing that people might think that, I personally sent him a private message on Twitter [saying], 'This was the family's wishes that it be…' And he of course completely ignored that [laughs], and led this sort of charge on attacking the Grammys…
I'm not — we're not above criticism. I am often the guy pushing — my first idea I ever had working on the Grammys was when Joe Strummer from The Clash died. I and Ken [Ulrich, Grammy producer] — I suggested that we do 'London Calling' with Bruce Springsteen, with Elvis Costello, with the guy from No Doubt, with Little Steven [Van Zandt]. And from that to AC/DC, some of my happiest moments were rock 'n' roll bands.