Eddie Van Halen, the Grammys and why none of that matters
Written by Kevin Tanza on March 22, 2021
Legacies are an interesting thing to analyze, especially when the carrier of said legacy has recently passed away: people tend to either celebrate that person’s legacy or try to undermine and even go as far as rewriting it if they deem it appropriate. But the principle in both cases is basically the same: “This person has passed away and we need to assess his/her legacy in this world.”
Edward Van Halen passed away last year and it was one of the biggest losses in modern music history. We celebrated his career here in MusikHolics by looking back on Van Halen’s debut album and a lot of musicians also paid their respects to one of Rock’s greatest juggernauts in their particular ways.
And then we have the Grammys.
A few days ago we had the ceremony for the Grammys and they did their usual obituary for the musicians we have lost in recent years. And considering the academy’s importance in the music industry and their supposed role as the institution in charge of celebrating and recognizing the careers of musicians that have accomplished something meaningful, it was only logical to expect a fitting tribute to a man of Edward’s caliber.
But as you could also expect if you are familiar with the Grammys, they didn’t. Van Halen got a 15 seconds appearance in a screen and then they moved on to the next fad they had in store for dull, lifeless consumption.
This situation has of course generated a lot of controversy, with many musicians and personalities of the Hard Rock scene expressing their annoyance, anger and even downright outrage at what they considered a monumental snub to Edward Van Halen. And I’m here to tell you something very important:
It doesn’t really matter.
Edward Van Halen is one of the greatest musicians of all time and there is a very strong argument that he is one of the three most influential guitarists in modern music history. He not only has the technical ability and the songwriting talents, but also the commercial success to back it, having sold millions and millions of copies with his own band, Van Halen. An endless list of hit songs and world class tours where he dazzled millions with his musicianship. Simply put, he did everything that you could expect from a Rock star and did it like the best of them.
So let me ask you this: Who cares if the Grammys didn’t celebrate his career and life? Who cares if an organization that is a lot more concerned with giving flavor-of-the-month artists an award doesn’t deem Edward worthy of two minutes of words or video compilations to celebrate him? Are we that insecure?
This is not me putting down those people that complained. They are individuals and they are free of doing whatever they see fit. But Hard Rock music has always been about freedom, being rebellious and doing what you think is best, so expecting a shallow, corporative organization to have that much relevance in this situation is pointless.
Screw the Grammys. They can do what they want. The man lives on in the minds and hearts of millions and his music is the greatest testament of his influence and relevance in this world. And that is something that the academy and a miserable music industry is never going to be able to take away from him.
A small band in the United States probably did a tribute to Van Halen when he passed away and that was a lot more worthy and fitting to his legacy than the Grammys–because it shows that, even to this day, he is influencing musicians out there. And when you die, you can only hope to leave something behind for others.