In Defense Of Wolfgang Van Halen

by Bill Brenner on February 12, 2012

With a new Van Halen album out, everyone has an opinion. Fine by me, because I have mine. But one writer has taken his displeasure over bassist Wolfgang Van Halen to levels that earn him a smack to the back of the head.

Mood music:

When you question quality of the songwriting and musicianship, it’s all well and good. If you’re a music critic, that’s your job.

But Martin Cizmar, former music critic at Phoenix New Times (he’s now at the Willamette Week in Portland, Oregon) makes personal attacks, specifically against Wolfgang, son of Edward Van Halen. Maybe I shouldn’t care because Cizmar wrote this article in 2010. His argument was that Wolfgang represents everything wrong with Millennials. Sarcasm is Cizmar’s thing, and I get that when reading this. But good sarcasm need not look like this:

First, let me say that, like most right-thinking people who’ve successfully avoided consuming any Chernobly Energy Drink in the vicinity of a hot tub, I don’t really give a shit whether the Van Halen brothers team up with their old singer David Lee Roth or not. I mean, seriously, is anyone expecting this to rock at all? The dudes are too old for Spandex and too proud to reinvent themselves as a bluegrass-y acoustic outfit, a la Robert Plant. So whatevs.

However, as both a taxpaying American citizen and professional critic of popular music, I am outraged by the band’s decision to fire original bassist Michael Anthony so that Eddie’s 19-year-old son, Wolfgang, can take his spot in the lineup.

Okay, look, I don’t know how to put this delicately, so I won’t try: “Wolfie,” the son of Eddie and his ex-wife, actress Valerie Bertinelli, is a fat little pig with bad skin who has no business being on stage with Van Halen. Letting him “play rock star” on huge stages is a travesty of embarrassing proportions. If VH wasn’t already in rock’s hall of fame I’d suggest they be banned, Pete Rose-style.

Can Wolfie play bass? Who cares? I’m sure he’s competent. Because, really, who can’t play bass? Fact: There are several trained apes playing bass in circus bands touring the country. They get way more chicks than Wolfie and they party way harder.

So why is Wolfie taking the place of a guy who was in the band for nearly 40 years? Because his daddy wants to pretend his special little son is talented or gifted or cool or whatever. Like those parents who sued their kids’ school for suspending them after they were busted with booze, Eddie wants to teach his son to have no respect for anyone or anything.

They call this the Age of Entitlement. I’m not sure The Bubonic Plague II would be worse. It seems that when you’re a Baby Boomer with money or power, your goal is to teach your asshat children to show nothing but utter contempt for your fellow man and the rules and standards that govern polite society. It’s a horrible thing to see.

What a jerk.

I don’t know Wolfgang, but neither does this guy. I don’t care what he looks like, but it apparently means a lot to Cizmar, who has written a how-to-lose-weight book called “Chubster.”

I agree when he says a lot of parents today are out of control, spoiling their children and not teaching them responsibility and respect. But that’s always been a problem.  He writes about this like it’s some new crack in America’s superior armor. There are good parents and bad parents. It’s always been that way and always will be.

I haven’t seen much from Wolfgang in terms of quotes in articles. Since he comes across as quiet, how would Cizmar know if Wolfgang lacked respect for his fellow man? And how could he possibly know what Edward Van Halen’s parental motivations are?

My uninformed opinion is that Wolfgang’s addition to the band is what probably saved it — the younger Van Halen inspiring his dad to put the bottle down and get back to work.

Whatever the case may be, I think Cizmar is the real “asshat” of this tale.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Ti Yar Kelley February 12, 2012 at 7:47 am

I’m a bass player. I’d like to slam that writer upside the head with a Fender Precision. Stupid fuck. Probably a resentful wanna-be in real life. Hiding in a room with a typewriter trying to sound hip? pthtbthtb

jim carrozza February 12, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Seriously? Is that all it takes to be a” music critic”,the ability to make fun of overweight sons of famous people?other than someone with a degree from say Berklee,who might have a better grasp of the technical aspect of who is a proficient musician,this is just another opinion.And as we all know,opinions are like assholes,everyone has one and they usually stink.Just my opinion.

Kent Gradison March 25, 2012 at 9:10 am

Cizmar is absolutely correct. This tour is a waste of time and 25% of every ticket sold should go to Anthony.

magi March 25, 2012 at 6:06 pm


Mark Brunelli April 14, 2012 at 10:59 am

Ok fine. But all that said, you can’t top Michael Anthony’s back up vocals.

matsellah April 17, 2012 at 8:33 pm

Putting the bottle down and getting back to work is spot-on! Don’t be surprised when history proves it was ‘the kid’ that put this band back together, something Anthony would never have been able to do. As for Cizmar, well… clowns will be clowns.

Steve April 18, 2012 at 11:00 am

There was bad blood between Eddie and Michael long before this tour, dating back about 10 years or so. Michael has said that in interviews himself. Nothing to do with Wolfgang. So if they needed a new bass player for this tour, why not Wolfgang? It is Van Halen after all. Either way, there was no reason for that asshole to go on such a personal attack. I heard nothing but good things from those I know who went to the Buffalo concert.

Fred April 25, 2012 at 11:36 am

“who can’t play bass?”
I’m sure Victor Wooten, Les Claypool, Geddy Lee, Billy Sheehan, and many others have asked themselves the same thing at different points in their lives! 🙂

While I agree it isn’t really a VH reunion without Anthony, and the way Ed handled the Mike firing was pretty low rent. The personal attack gets Cizmar a 2010 Ignoranus Award, although 2 years later we’ll have to send it to him postage due.

It would be pretty neat if Ed is setting up VH for the day when Ed, Alex, and Dave have been replaced by Wolfgang’s new mates.

tim moody April 29, 2012 at 6:50 pm

Just left the show in saint louis. Show was ok. They had a lot of timing issues. David was good….he couldn’t hit a lot of the notes he used to hit. Wolfgang needs to grow a lot as a musician

Blondie 66 June 2, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Just went last night and saw Van Halen 2012 LA Staples Center, all I have to say is “They Rocked!!!!” Eddie is the BOMB!!! He’s mesmoirizing on his guitar!! Wolfie, to me needs to play more closer to the band rather than wandering off to the side and leaving the rest of the band to be get all the oohs and ahhs. He needs to take some of the credit too!! It seemed as though he was letting them have back their old starlight fame. I thought he was Awesome on the bass, and at 21, how Awesome he gets to play on Tour with the band that Rocked the 80’s!!! Now David is another story….. Lol, I know he’s getting up there in age but he was off key a lot! I wished he just would of sang the songs the way they originally were sang, not sing his own beat. I’m just sayin…..for my first time going to a Van Halen concert, I didn’t understand half of the songs he was singing, normally I sing and dance right along but this time I just sat and watched. The rest of the band sounded great!!! I had a great time and would go back again!!!! Ohhh, and to the “Supposed Teacher”, that was PUFFING ON A PIPE SMOKING MARIJUANA, AND YELLING AND SCREAMING next to me, You need to be SMACKED!!! Dumb !@&?!@!!!!!! Ya…. WHAT A ROLE MODEL YOU ARE!!!!! THANK GOD YOUR NOT MY KIDS TEACHER!!!!!!!!.

Karen June 16, 2012 at 2:25 am

I could wish nothing more than to be on the cover of Guitar World with my son… I am happy for both Eddie and his son… And by the way, he’s not fat- he’s buff and sexy.

Danny July 1, 2012 at 2:13 pm

I think Wolfgang complements his fathers’ playing quite well on the new album. Michael Anthony too complemented Eddies’ playing and he was an integral part of Van Halen’s success over the years. Sadly he wasn’t part of Van halen’s reunion just as Bill Ward isn’t part of Black Sabbath’s.

It’s a shame that people act the way they do and in the grander scheme of things it’s all very foolish.

I wish them all well.
Oh, and Wolfie – Stay Frosty!

Brendan October 31, 2012 at 6:40 pm

Whoever wrote this had to have been severely bullied as a child. The fact he comments on his weight suggests that this guy is more worried about wolf gangs ability to satisfy his sexual appeal then give him music. I have nothing against the homosexual community, but for the sake of yourself, at least come out already, its 2012.

Anthony Alfidi July 6, 2015 at 12:34 pm

Wolfgang Van Halen grew up in a musical household. Anyone who had Edward and Alex Van Halen as their primary music instructors for the first two decades of their lives is probably going to play like a pro. Clips on YouTube show them having a great time with David Lee Roth back in the band. I will give Van Halen the benefit of the doubt.

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