Eddie Van Halen’s son Wolfgang on mourning his father: ‘He’s the only thing that keeps me going’

The legendary guitarist passed away in 2020 at age 65 from cancer

Wolfgang Van Halen is focusing on his music – just as his father would have wanted.

Guitar legend Eddie Van Halen passed away in 2020 at age 65 after a battle with cancer.

His son admitted the late icon is "the only thing that keeps me going."

"It’s really tough," the 30-year-old said in this week’s issue of People magazine. "I guess I’m a good actor when it comes to pretending that everything is OK. But it’s really not."

"What really helps me keep going is my dad, because if I just gave up and stopped and crawled in a hole, which I feel like doing every day, I know he’d be really pissed off at me," Wolfgang shared. "He’s the only thing that keeps me going."


Bassist Wolfgang Van Halen (L) and guitarist Eddie Van Halen of Van Halen perform during the 2015 Billboard Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 17, 2015, in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

According to the outlet, Wolfgang has been working on his album for years but he put his career on hold to care for his father.

"Not a single regret," said the musician about hitting pause on his music for the ailing patriarch. "That stuff can wait. I put everything on hold with my album to spend every waking second with my dad."

Several weeks after Van Halen’s death, Wolfgang released "The Distance," a song he wrote for his father. The music video featured childhood footage of the pair.

"Music is a really therapeutic thing," he reflected. "And being able to focus on that and just paying tribute to my dad and our relationship was a really helpful thing for me to grieve in that way."


Eddie Van Halen (L) and son Wolfgang hug at the Van Halen press conference announcing their new tour at the Four Seasons Hotel on August 13, 2007, in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images)

The outlet shared that Wolfgang has been immersing himself in music and working at 5150 Studios, where his father made some of his iconic records.

"This is where I’m going to be recording all my music for the rest of my life," said Wolfgang. "And it’s where my dad, since ‘1984,’ has been recording. His energy is all throughout this place, and I’m excited to continue the legacy of filling this place with music."

"I’m an extension of him and I’m just so happy to be here to spread the good word of who he was and how he should be remembered," Wolfgang continued. "I think he is like a Mozart of our generation. I think as far removed as we are from Mozart, and we still talk about him and know who he is, that’s what he’s going to be."

The members of the band Van Halen — the two Van Halen brothers, Eddie and Alex; vocalist David Lee Roth; and bassist Michael Anthony — formed in 1974 in Pasadena, Calif. They were members of rival high school bands and then attended Pasadena City College together. They combined to form the band Mammoth but then changed to Van Halen after discovering there was another band called Mammoth.


Valerie Bertinelli and Eddie Van Halen were married from 1981 to 2007. (Getty            )

Van Halen is among the top 20 best-selling artists of all time, and the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. Rolling Stone magazine put the star at No. 8 in its list of the 100 greatest guitarists.

Van Halen, sober since 2008, lost one-third of his tongue to cancer that eventually drifted into his esophagus. In 1999, he had a hip replacement. He was married twice, to actress Valerie Bertinelli - Wolfgang's mother - from 1981 to 2007 and then to stuntwoman-turned-publicist Janie Liszewski, whom he wed in 2009.

"I’m so grateful Wolfie and I were able to hold you in your last moments," Bertinelli, 61, wrote on Instagram at the time of Van Halen's death. She accompanied her heartfelt message with a photo of their son. "I will see you in our next life."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.