Wolfgang Van Halen Opens Up About Late Father’s Health Battles
Wolfgang Van Halen detailed his father's health battle during an interview on SiriusXM's The Howard Stern Show. He said "2017 was kind of the start of it all,” recalling when Eddie Van Halen's health started taking a turn for the worst. “At the end of 2017, he was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. And the doctors were like, ‘You have six weeks.’”
At that point, the elder Van Halen went to Germany for treatment, which Wolfgang credited for the additional three years of life his father was given.
There were moments afterward when Eddie’s health improved. At those times, he and Wolfgang would discuss potential musical endeavors, including the so-called Kitchen Sink tour, in which all current and former Van Halen members, including Michael Anthony and Sammy Hagar, would take the stage together. According to Wolfgang, things were in motion to bring this tour to reality, but Eddie’s declining health stopped it from coming to fruition.
“That was real, and we were so excited about it, all of us,” Van Halen said of the proposed tour. “It just didn’t pan out, unfortunately. It would have been insane.”
Things got worse for Eddie in 2019, following a motorcycle accident. “We found out that he had a brain tumor,” Wolfgang recalled, adding that a further procedure helped his father to keep going. Still, health issues continued to mount, at times seeming relentless. “As time went on, shit kept stacking up and stacking up. It just never let up.”
Van Halen said he was with his dad "every step of the way. Every second I could." He put his solo project on hold to spend as much time with Eddie as possible.
During his radio appearance, the Van Halen bassist premiered his first solo single, "Distance," a tune dedicated to his late father. Wolfgang said he played the song for Eddie before his death.
“He heard the idea. I played it for him and everything, just me and him," he recalled, admitting it was an emotional moment for both men. "We cried. It was hard to sing it and play it through.”
Wolfgang previously explained that Eddie had inspired "Distance," noting, "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." Despite this, father and son never explicitly discussed the track's meaning.
“I think overall it was just a song about loss. I don’t think it really connected with him that it was about him," Wolfgang admitted to Stern. "But he loved it anyways.”