The Untold Truth Of Wolf Van Halen

The only son of legendary rock guitarist Eddie Van Halen and sitcom star Valerie Bertinelli, Wolf Van Halen was born in 1991. Despite his parents' celebrity, the youngster didn't grow up surrounded by the trappings of fame. In fact, Van Halen told UCR, it wasn't until he was around six or seven years old that he discovered his dad was a world-famous rock star. As he recalled, at the time his dad's band was in the midst of remastering CDS for the first six Van Halen albums. "I found a box of all of them, and I saw my name on it and a picture of my dad," he recalled. "I said, 'Dad, what's this?' and he said, 'Oh, yeah, uh ... this is what I do.' And he kind of introduced me to everything."

As he grew older, Wolf demonstrated musical aptitude, first on drums and then on other instruments; during the latter part of the 2000s, he joined his father's band as bass player, a role he filled for more than a decade. Following his father's death in 2020, he struck out on his own to record and release "Mammoth WVH," the self-titled debut album for the band he'd formed.

Despite being the public eye for most of his life, there's much fans might not know about this talented singer, songwriter and musician. To learn more, keep on reading to discover the untold truth of Wolf Van Halen.

He's named after a musician even more celebrated than his dad

In March 2021, Valerie Bertinelli shared a heartfelt tribute on Instagram in celebration of son Wolf Van Halen's 30th birthday. "I know your father agrees that the happiest day of our lives was the day you were born," she wrote in the caption, accompanying a collage of photos from his childhood.

As a profile in The Washington Post pointed out, Van Halen was surrounded by music from an early age; he was just 10, in fact, when he received a drum kit as a birthday gift. "In the beginning, when Ed and I were still together and Wolfie showed an aptitude for music, Ed would beam," Bertinelli recalled to the outlet.

Van Halen, reminded iHeartRadio, was named after one of the most famous composers in music history, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. In an interview with ET, he honored his later father by comparing him to his own musical namesake. "I think he's the Mozart of our generation," said Van Halen of his father. "I think the way we look back at people like Mozart and Beethoven, from how far we are removed from them, you put that amount of time ahead of us, and I think people will still be looking back at him."

Music helped him cope with the death of dad Eddie Van Halen

When Van Halen guitarist Eddie Van Halen died in October 2020 at age 65, nobody was hit harder by the loss than his only son. Interviewed by Carson Daly for Today, Wolf Van Halen admitted that his father was his best friend, and losing him was difficult. "It doesn't seem like the pain is ever really gonna go away," he said. "You just kinda figure out how to carry it a bit better."

What nobody knew until after the fact, he told People, was that he'd placed his own musical ambitions on ice so he could take care of his cancer-stricken dad during his final years. Despite delaying the release of his debut solo album, Van Halen said he had no regrets about setting aside his own musical career. "That stuff can wait," he told People. "I put everything on hold with my album to spend every waking second with my dad."

While music was something that he and his father shared intimately, it also came to be what helped carry him through his mourning process. "Music is a really therapeutic thing," Wolf explained. "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."

The heartwarming way that Wolf Van Halen inspired his late father's music

Back in 2016, Valerie Bertinelli shared a vintage photo on Facebook in which then-husband Eddie Van Halen was playing an acoustic guitar that was perched upon her pregnant belly. "Ed playing 316 on my growing tummy, before he knew he would call it 316," she wrote in the caption, referencing the instrumental track "316" that appeared on Van Halen's 1991 album "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge."

The title refers to Wolf Van Halen's birthday, March 16. In a 1995 interview with Guitar World, the guitarist confirmed that he composed the song for his son before he was born. According to Eddie Van Halen, he was playing the song onstage when suddenly, unbeknownst to him, his young son ran out onstage in the midst of his solo, "and the crowd just went nuts. I thought to myself, 'Whoa, f*** man, I must be really putting some muscle into this or something, because normally they don't cheer that loud for this section!' It turned out they were cheering for him. He had the spotlight on him and he was grooving!"

He was just a teenager when he became Van Halen's bass player

Wolf Van Halen officially joined the family business at age 16 when became Van Halen's bass player, noted The Washington Post. As UCR recalled, the band officially announced in 2007 that the teenager, then 15, would be replacing the band's original bass player, Michael Anthony.

As the bassist told Guitar World in a joint 2012 interview with his dad, joining Van Halen was never his goal, and only came at the behest of his father. "I didn't ask to join," he insisted, while his dad confirmed, "I asked him." 

In a different Guitar World interview from that same year, Wolf admitted he was initially intimidated to play with one of the all-time great rock bands, but added, "it quickly fell into place and felt right." His father put it into perspective when he told Guitar World (via MusicRadar) that his son "breathes new life into what we're doing. He brings youthfulness to something that's inherently youthful. He's only been playing bass for three months, but it's spooky. He's locked tight and puts an incredible spin on our s***. The kid is kicking my a**!"

His father named a custom guitar after Wolf Van Halen

Writing and recording the song "316" wasn't the only way that Wolf Van Halen was honored by his father. In 2008, Eddie Van Halen announced the launch of his own customized guitar, named for his son, the EVH Wolfgang. Created via a partnership with guitar manufacturer Fender, the rocker told Guitar World that the instrument represented the "culmination of my 35 years of experimenting with guitars. Everything that I've destroyed, stumbled onto, learned and experienced in my journey to get to where we are now is in this guitar."

A customized guitar created by Eddie Van Halen was big news in the guitar-playing community. "Anytime Eddie does something, it's still a big deal," Matt Blackett, associate editor at Guitar Player magazine, told USA Today. "He's the Jimi Hendrix of our generation, and certainly the most influential guitar gear guy of the last 30 years." As Wolf himself told the newspaper, he was intimately involved with every aspect of the EVH Wolfgang, at every step of its evolution. "In the past, guitars with my name on them weren't as good as my own," Wolf explained. "This is my last attempt to get things done right, and I took it seriously."

As the guitarist told Guitar World, "The tolerance of things on this guitar is like NASA standards," describing the guitar's feel as being akin to that of "a sexy woman."

The best musical advice Wolf Van Halen received from his dad

Wolf Van Halen and father Eddie Van Halen shared a unique bond, transcending the father-son relationship by being fellow musicians and bandmates. While the elder Van Halen no doubt passed down all manner of fatherly advice to his son, he also had plenty of musical advice to offer as well. 

Speaking with Guitar World, Wolf Van Halen revealed one key piece of wisdom he absorbed. "I think Dad would rather have people not try and sound like him but sound like themselves," he said. Wolf also dispelled the assumption that his father taught him how to play guitar. As he explained, he began his musical career as a drummer before picking up the guitar at age 12 with the goal of learning how to play the instrumental "316" for a school talent show. After his father showed him the basics, things just snowballed.

"So, I just learned that song, and from there I took a shine to guitar and tried to learn everything I could," Wolf told UCR, noting that his father gave him "little lessons here and there," but ultimately allowed him the freedom to find his own way. "People always comment 'Well, he had a good teacher!'" Wolf told Guitar World. "But Dad wasn't a very good teacher."

His debut album is loaded with Easter eggs for Van Halen fans

When Wolf Van Halen finally unveiled his long-in-the-works debut album, "Mammoth WVH," it was a no-brainer that its release would attract the attention of Van Halen fans. Years before his death, in fact, Eddie Van Halen teased the sound of the album his son ultimately spent years working on. "It's like AC/DC, meets Van Halen meets aggressive pop ... It's so powerful that I'm jealous," the late guitarist told Guitar World back in 2015. 

As a way to honor his dad's sharper-eared fans, Wolf included some Easter eggs within the album. One of these can be heard in the end of the album track "Don't Back Down," which mimics a sonic guitar trick his dad featured on Van Halen's "So This Is Love?"

"Yeah, except Dad does the little kink with the pick on the strings, and I do a little phaser pick slide," he explained to Australian Guitar, admitting it was "definitely the vibe I was going for. I'm surprised at how quickly people caught that." Another Easter egg is the back of the album cover, with Wolf recalling that "people were like, 'Oh my god it's arranged like the first Van Halen album!' I didn't think people would notice that the second they saw it. They're kind of winks and nods. There's nothing bigger behind it."

He's a multi-instrumentalist who played all the instruments on his solo debut

While Wolf Van Halen's self-titled debut album is credited to the band Mammoth WVH, the band that he's bringing on the road for his freshman tour is not the band that recorded the album. That band, in fact, is comprised of Van Halen and nobody else, given that he played every single instrument on the album (the music video for single "Don't Back Down" makes light of this, with CGI placing Van Halen in the studio simultaneously playing drums, bass, and both lead and rhythm guitar, while also producing in the booth).

Van Halen is in good company; both Paul McCartney and Dave Grohl likewise took the one-man-band approach for the former Beatles debut solo album, "McCartney," and the first Foo Fighters album, respectively. As Van Halen told NPR's "Weekend Edition Saturday," "I just thought it'd be a fun thing to do. You know, I could play everything. I always admired how Dave Grohl did the first Foo Fighters album, where he recorded everything himself. So I guess I wanted to have a go at it."

The name of the album and his band, Van Halen revealed, has a special connection to his late father. "When my dad had a band before Van Halen, it was called Mammoth," he explained. "So I always told myself that when I grew up, I'd name my own album and my own band."

The reason his album Mammoth WVH has been compared to a notorious Guns 'N' Roses release

The fact that Wolf Van Halen's debut album has been in the works for many years led to a comparison to another album that came to become almost apocryphal in rock history: Guns 'N' Roses' 2008 album "Chinese Democracy." Recording reportedly began back in 2008, reported Rolling Stone, with numerous rumors of its impending release floated throughout the decade that followed. Speaking with Spin, Van Halen admitted that he's heard "Chinese Democracy" mentioned alongside his own "Mammoth WVH" album more times than he would have liked. "Dude, non-stop I got the 'Chinese Democracy' joke over and over and over again," he said. 

That's not the only connection that Van Halen shares with GNR; in June 2021, the rockers announced that Van Halen's Mammoth WVH would be opening for them on their 2021 tour, which had been rescheduled from the previous year due to the pandemic. In fact, Rolling Stone reported the band brought Van Halen onstage during a Florida show to join them for a performance of their hit "Paradise City." 

As Van Halen told Spin, he and his Mammoth WVH bandmates were pleasantly surprised by the response they received as GNR's opening act. "I've always heard Guns N' Roses is tough," he admitted. "Not every Guns fan likes the bands that are opening for Guns ... But, they said, 'We have not seen such an amazing response from an opener in like 19 years.'"

The approach he takes on being a rock frontman

With the release of "Mammoth WVH" and the band heading out on the road, Wolf Van Halen made the leap from Van Halen's second bass player — with many of the songs he performed before he was born — to fronting his own band, singing songs he wrote himself.  

Interviewed by Blabbermouth, Van Halen revealed the low-key approach he was taking for his new role as rock frontman. "I'm very much myself, to a certain degree," he said, noting that some people "would expect, from a cynical distance, if they know nothing about it, they probably assume me to be like David Lee Roth-esque and be, like, 'wow' in between every vocal." That approach, he said, seemed to be working for him, explaining that "right now I'm just myself and I talk to the audience, I tell stories in between songs about what you're about to hear ... Maybe it's boring, but I'm just being unabashedly myself, and I think being honest is a nice thing to be doing."

Touring with Guns 'N' Roses, he told The Aquarian, also helped to improve his skills fronting his band. "It's the 10,000-hour rule: The more you put towards your craft, the better you get," he said, referencing the premise of author Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers." "You get more time in the seat, you get better, and you create the energy," he added.

He's long understood that comparisons to his dad are inevitable

Being the offspring of one of the greatest rock guitarists in history does not come without some baggage. This is particularly true when, like Wolf Van Halen, one decides to pursue a career in music. However, Van Halen has no illusions about how he expects to be viewed by the general public — at least initially. 

He addressed the inevitable comparisons to his late father in an Instagram post, in which he answered a fan's question about whether he viewed the niche his dad had carved out to be a blessing or a curse. "It's really equally both," he admitted. On the one hand, interest was guaranteed to be generated by virtue of his parentage, which he admitted was great. However, he also pointed to the flip side of that, when fans of his father listen to his music and complain that it's not "'Van Halen-y' enough for them." He reiterated, "I'm not trying to be my father, I'm trying to be me."

Van Halen also touched on the issue in a subsequent tweet, responding to a comment noting it was unfair to compare him with his late father. "But people still compare every single thing I do to my father's accomplishments anyway," he wrote, "so I guess it doesn't really f***in' matter." However, he insisted to Guitar World, he's not "milking off the legacy ... I'm not sitting there doing covers of 'Panama," he added.

He's been in a long-term relationship since 2015

Wolfgang Van Halen's debut album, "Mammoth WVH," earned him his first Grammy nod, with the track "Distance" nominated for best rock song (he didn't win). He attended the ceremony accompanied by mom Valerie Bertinelli and girlfriend Andraia Allsop. So who is Allsop, whom Van Halen began dating in 2015? A graduate of the University of Utah, reported The U.S. Sun, Allsop is reportedly a software engineer, and has no connection to the music business other than her boyfriend. Back in 2018, Van Halen shared some photos of himself and his girlfriend on Instagram, in celebration of their three-year anniversary. 

While Van Halen has a close relationship with Bertinelli, apparently Allsop is also quite friendly with her beau's mother, who receives regular visits from the couple. "My girlfriend and I pretty much go over to my mom's house every day to see her and play with her cats that we love," Van Halen told People

According to Van Halen, his relationship with his mom is both loving and steeped in sarcasm. "I think a lot of people don't understand how sarcastic our relationship is," he explained. "One time, she burnt onion rings. And it's like, she has a cooking show, so I just made fun of her for it ... Sarcasm is a language, and that's how we communicate!"

Why he plans to record at his dad's 5150 studio for the rest of his life

In 1983, recalled UCR, Eddie Van Halen built himself a home studio he dubbed 5150 Studios, named for the California law that permits those with mental health issues to be involuntarily detained if it's determined they may be dangerous to themselves and others. Over the years, Van Halen continued to refine the studio, which also served as a vault for the recordings produced there. 

That studio is now owned by Wolf Van Halen. Not only is 5150 where his father's band recorded many of its biggest hits, it's also where he recorded "Mammoth WVH." "Where we're sitting right now, this is where I'm gonna be recording all the music I will for the rest of my life," Wolf told People. "It's where my dad, since 1984, has been recording music here. His energy is all throughout this place and I'm excited to continue the legacy of filling this place with music." 

A 2021 interview with Spin was conducted in the studio, which was in the midst of a renovation upgrade being overseen by the studio's longtime manager, Matt Bruck, and his producer, Michael "Elvis" Baskette. One project awaiting Wolf is going through his father's archives, but he cautioned fans of his dad that "it'll happen eventually ... don't plan on it. Don't wait for it."

He's become used to dealing with haters

As Wolf Van Halen wrote on Instagram, he'd become "fully prepared for a wave of hate" upon the release of his album, "Mammoth WVH." Speaking with Guitar World, Van Halen admitted that no matter what he did, there would always be someone accusing him of riding on the coattails of his late father. "It's an up and down thing," he said of dealing with haters. "Sometimes it's too much, and sometimes you're ready to take it on the chin and tell them to f** off." He did, however, admit to taking a certain pleasure in responding to certain online jabs, noting that "every now and then and some a**hole lobs you a really big softball that you could just f***in' knock out of the park, and it's really fun."

In an interview with "100.3 The X", via Blabbermouth, he explained why he's chosen to "pick [his] battles." When he does confront a hater, he explained, "half the time, either one of two things will happen. They'll either double down and be even worse, or they'll immediately apologize because they get a fraction of what they just dealt to you and they don't know how to deal with it."

He's chosen to use humor in these online altercations, treating it "almost like a puzzle" to be solved. "So, I found my fun way of dealing with it, and I'm going to keep doing it," he added.

Wolf Van Halen has amassed an impressive net worth

At the time of Eddie Van Halen's death, the legendary guitarist was reportedly worth a whopping $100 million (according to Celebrity Net Worth). Meanwhile, Rock Celebrities theorized that the late rocker's estate was divided among his brother, Van Halen drummer Alex Van Halen, wife Janie Liszewski, and his only child, Wolf Van Halen. The latter, noted Celebrity Net Worth, apparently received about 10 percent of that fortune, with his net worth estimated to be $10 million. 

Growing up as the scion of a multimillionaire rock star and successful TV actor, money has never been something about which Wolf has had to worry about. As a result, one thing that his dad's fans will never have to fear is the spectacle of his son auctioning off his famed guitars for cash. In December 2020, Wolf took to Twitter to comment on a story in Blabbermouth about three of the late musician's guitars sold at auction for a combined $422,000.

According to Wolf, those were not guitars his dad played regularly, and he "had nothing to do with this." In fact, he insisted, "I don't EVER plan on selling any of my father's iconic guitars. The only place they'd possibly belong in is a museum."