Wolfgang Van Halen recently spoke with The Afternoon Program on the 102.9 The Hog radio station and said his father, Eddie Van Halen, was an ineffective guitar teacher.

Wolfgang said, “He was a terrible teacher. He only taught me how to do power chords on a guitar, and then I taught myself. [Laughs] I would ask him how to play something, and then he would just be himself, which is be a legendary guitar player. He couldn’t really help me connect point A to point B; he would just do it and go, ‘Do this,’ because it’s so easy for him. And I would just laugh and be, like, ‘Okay.’ [Laughs]”

“I guess it’s the same thing with [Albert] Einstein,” he added, referring to arguably the greatest scientist of all time. “[Einstein] couldn’t tie his shoes. There’s a saying where it’s, like, you’re such a genius that it’s hard to impart that to others; it’s just kind of what you are. [Laughs]”

Wolfgang, who played all the instruments on Mammoth WVH’s upcoming debut album, went on to say that he picked up guitar when he was just 12 years old, “because I wanted to learn how to play ‘316’, the song [my father] wrote for me, at a talent show at my school. I think it was sixth grade.”

Van Halen recently released his first single, titled Distance, which his wrote for his father, who passed away from cancer on on October 6th, listen to the song here.

14 Responses

    1. I don’t know if you play guitar, but I think you’re hitting on the core difference between Randy Rhoads’ and Eddie Van Halen’s guitar playing and styles. If you dissect Rhoads’ playing – especially his solos – they are very schooled, logical, methodical, and based very much on music theory. In a way, it’s easier to teach because of its foundation. Van Halen’s soloing is far more instinctual and based on feel, so it’s more idiosyncratic and unique to him. They’re both technical virtuosos, but they approach their music – especially their solos – from two entirely different perspectives. Honestly, that’s why I think comparing the two is kind of a pointless endeavor, beyond saying they’re both brilliant in their own way.

    2. RTunes,

      I don’t play guitar, but have dated guitarists. One who was self taught, and one who took endless lessons and theory, both of them worshipped Rhoads. One also Van Halen, while the other, Michael Schenker.

      The one who never took lessons, tried to teach me how to play, and while I was a terrible student, he was a good teacher and very patient. I never asked the other to bother, because I already knew I was a lost cause.

      I think you are taking my comment as an insult which is was not meant to be, only merely as an observation, Quite frankly, had Wolggang not made such a comment, my natural instinct would have been to believe that his father would have been a great, and affable, teacher.

      Every person is a unique creature, and I don’t think having formal training makes one a better, nor more effective teacher. Some of the best educators I ever had were adjuncts, with has no formal training experience. However, when it comes to music, I will not argue that being able to read music, and teach another to do so, is a plus. However, feel is a God given talent, and while practice can make one better, I still believe that it is far more instinctual

    3. Dana, you a correct about Rhoads loving to teach. While touring, he would often seek out guitar instructors to learn from and Rhoads would end up teaching the instructor!

    4. Hey Dana,
      I didn’t take your comment as an insult at all. I was just talking in general terms about Rhoads’ and Van Halen’s stylistic differences and the pointlessness of comparing two very different guitarists. My point – which I guess I wasn’t clear on – is that it would make sense for Rhoads to be a good teacher and Van Halen not so much because one played very methodically (teachable) and the other seemed to play almost wholly by feel (tougher to teach). I wasn’t insinuating that you were pitting the two. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

  1. Maybe part of it was due to EVH being self taught and just playing what sounded good to him. EVH didn’t care about scales, music theory, etc….if it sounded good to him, then it was good. Obviously it worked, cuz he was one of the greatest, innovative, and influential guitarists of our generation.

  2. I think you have to have patience, to teach anything to someone , i can see Eddie not having much patience or tolerence, the guitar was really an extension of him , it came to so easily, so i understand why he was a terrible teacher ~

    1. Maybe? My natural instinct was to think he would have been a good teacher, but I guess that was incorrect. If you have mastered something with minimal effort, I guess I could see losing patience with those who cannot seem to grasp it quite so quickly.

      Honestly, I don’t know how Randy had such patience, as he was also a prodigy (despite the formal training). When Randy was 15, or 16 years old, I think? His teacher told his mother (Dolores) that he could no longer educate Randy because he had surpassed him, a grown man, mind you-LOL! I guess being able to teach others truly is a gift, Satriani was also a teacher.

      Another interesting fact, many of Randy students asked him to teach them how to play like Eddie Van Halen. My fiancee sent this to me on October 11th, and I sent it along to Eddie Trunk.

      I think I will make that a separate news story, so people can comment on it. Here is the link: https://eddietrunk.com/listen-to-randy-rhoads-playing-some-van-halen-riffs/

    2. Dana, Satriani was a great teacher and had many students who went on to have music careers. Too bad Kirk Hammett’s teachings from Satriani disappeared after Metallica’s “…Justice..” album cuz Kirk hasn’t had a rippin’ solo since then….Today’s Kirk is just a sloppy player going through the motions like the rest of the band…..

  3. The way Eddie composed his solos after awhile was to record a bunch of different solos on separate tracks and then take the bits of them and put them together…Dave said it was funny watching him have to learn how to play the finished composite because his hand would go from one end of the neck to the other…

  4. Would have thought EVH would have been a phenomonal teacher…..but when I think about it, it makes sense….EVH’s playing was in his DNA – it just was in him as he picked up a guitar….easy to do but hard to articulate. Glad I was around to see that kind of magic. Rest easy EVH

    I am so envious of those who can read sheet music and work their instrument until they are procient in it
    Equally envious of those who can pick up an instrument and “figure it out”.
    Either way, the practice it takes requires alot of dedication. I salute all musicians

    Remember when asked about his playing, Kiss’ Ace Frehley would say ” I don’t know what i am doing”; which I always found funny. While not comparing Ace to EVH/RR, his solos were always memorable.

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