Steven Wilson Apologizes to Wolfgang Van Halen for Eddie Comments
British prog icon Steven Wilson apologized to Wolfgang Van Halen for comments he made in a recent interview about the death of Eddie Van Halen.
Wilson told FaceCulture he wasn’t particularly affected by the Van Halen guitarist’s death and went on to say he was never a fan of the “shredding” playing style. “I know he's an extraordinary musician, and it's always sad when an extraordinary artist dies," he said. "I was never a fan of the so-called shredder mentality. And I think in many ways, he was the father of that whole kind of movement.”
He clarified that he knew Van Halen's talent went further than that. “I think that the legacy that he has, Eddie Van Halen, is in creating the shredder phenomenon, which is something so vile to me," Wilson explained. "That kind of idea that you play music almost like you're playing an Olympic sport is kind of anathema to my kind of ideas on creativity and music.”
Wilson’s words led to a series of tweets from Wolfgang, who said: “Damn this bums me out. … Been a huge fan of his for years.” He added that he was aware that some headlines regarding the story were “a little too clickbait-y, because what he said really wasn’t that rude.” However, he continued, “What hurts is that he seems to only view Pop as a ‘shredder,’ when, in my opinion, he was anything but. Sure, he could shred, but Pop had melody and finesse like no other ‘shredder’ that swam in his wake ever had … and on top of that he was an incredible songwriter.”
Noting that Deadwing, Wilson’s 2005 album with his former band Porcupine Tree, remained one of his favorites, Wolfgang added that "it’s absolutely okay that he’s not a fan. Not everyone is going to be a fan of everything. It just sucks that he ‘blames’ Pop for shredding being a thing.
"To make things crystal clear, I’d like to add that this in no way changes how I feel about Steven Wilson or his music. I guess it’s just a bummer that a stellar musician I hold in such high regard doesn’t see what I see when it comes to my father and his playing.”
Last night, Wilson followed up by tweeting: “Dear Wolfgang: Apologies, no disrespect was meant to your father, an extraordinary musician. I personally never owned any Van Halen records and didn’t ever get into the style of playing, but he was clearly an incredible innovator. .… So, when asked about his passing, I couldn’t honestly say I was affected deeply by it, at least not in the way that my heroes Bowie or Prince’s passing had affected me. … This statement was given in honest humility. Forgive me for any offence unintentionally given, and I offer my deepest condolences.”
Wolfgang then responded: “Incredibly kind of you to say, Steven. I meant no ill will in my previous tweets. As I said, the internet was exacerbating what you had said, as the internet tends to do. Still very kind of you. Be well, friend.”
In recent years, and particularly since Van Halen’s death, Wolfgang has sought to calm the effects of clickbait and social-media overreaction. In 2019, he intervened after pop star Billie Eilish was criticized for saying she’d never heard of Van Halen. “If you haven’t heard of Billie Eilish, go check her out. She’s cool," he tweeted. "If you haven’t heard of Van Halen, go check them out. They’re cool, too. Music is supposed to bring us together, not divide us. Listen to what you want and don’t shame others for not knowing what you like."