It’s been just over a month since the legendary rock guitarist Eddie Van Halen passed away at the age of 65 following a long battle with cancer. Now, his 29 year-old son Wolfgang Van Halen is paying tribute to him with an emotional new song.
Wolfgang explained in a statement on YouTube that he had written the powerful song while his father was battling cancer.
“As my pop continued to struggle with various health issues, I was imagining what my life would be like without him and how terribly I’d miss him,” he said. “While the song is incredibly personal, I think anyone can relate to the idea of having a profound loss in their life. I never intended ‘Distance’ to be the very first piece of music people would hear from me, but I also thought my father would be here to celebrate its release. This is for him. I love and miss you, Pop.”
Wolfgang recorded the song under the name Mammoth WVH, which is also a tribute to Eddie, as the band Van Halen was originally called Mammoth. The touching music video for the song includes old home movies that show Eddie as a young father with his ex-wife, actress Valerie Bertinelli, who is Wolfgang’s mom.
It ends with a voicemail from Eddie to his son, saying, “I’m just so happy to have you as my son, man. I’m so proud of you. I love you so much. Call me if you get a chance. I just want to hear your voice.”
Eddie died on October 6 after a battle with throat cancer. He had revealed back in 2015 that he’d had one-third of his tongue removed due to cancer that had also spread to his esophagus.
“I used metal picks — they’re brass and copper — which I always held in my mouth, in the exact place where I got the tongue cancer,” Eddie explained to Billboard Magazine at the time. “Plus, I basically live in a recording studio that’s filled with electromagnetic energy. So that’s one theory. I mean, I was smoking and doing a lot of drugs and a lot of everything. But at the same time, my lungs are totally clear. This is just my own theory, but the doctors say it’s possible.”