“I didn’t even know if I could do it,” Van Halen said. “I had a lot of conversations with Dave. What a kind sweetheart of a man he is. … Initially, he was like, ‘What do you think? Would you be comfortable doing this?’ Initially, I didn’t wanna disappoint Dave Grohl. And I was like, ‘Sure.’”
He added that Grohl asked him to take time over the decision to make sure it was right. “I thought a lot about it and I was like, ‘You know what? If there was ever a time, this is it,'” he explained. “I talked to him about it and I was just honest. I was like, ‘I don’t know if I could do this, but if I do, I need your support. I need you up there with me.’ I was like, ‘Whatever the incarnation of what it becomes, I need you there with me,’ and he was like, ‘Absolutely.’”
The performances went ahead with Justin Hawkins singing, Grohl playing bass and Josh Freese on drums after a minimal number of rehearsals. “I was pretty sure Justin could do it, but then once we got there and he hit it, it was like, ‘Fuck, this is gonna be amazing,’” Van Halen said. “It was really exciting. It was really special, man. I’m superhappy and proud with how everything came to be.”
He reflected on the “backhanded compliment” from those who believed it didn’t take much rehearsal for him to play like Eddie. “I didn’t just put a CD in and upload it into my head!” he said. “I work very hard to be able to do what I can do.”
7 Tear-Jerking Moments From the Taylor Hawkins Tribute Concert
We’re not crying. You’re crying.