Eddie Van Halen Was ‘Stoked’ Wolfgang Named His Band Mammoth WVH
Despite the fact this his debut solo album finds him operating as a one-man band, Wolfgang Van Halen announced today that he will release music and tour under the name Mammoth WVH.
The first word of that moniker comes from the trio that Wolfgang's father Eddie, uncle Alex Van Halen and bassist Mark Stone had in the early '70s, before the arrivals of Michael Anthony and David Lee Roth.
Wolfgang says the idea came to him many years ago, long before his father died last month. "Growing up, whenever my dad would tell me the story that, you know, [Van Halen was once] called Mammoth… It was a three-piece, and Dad was singing," he told Rolling Stone. "They had a bass player, Mark Stone, who unfortunately passed about a week or two before Dad did. He was a wonderful man. And I just thought that it was so cool that, one, Dad was singing. And two, it was an awesome band name. So growing up I was like, whenever I have my own band, I want to call it Mammoth."
Shortly after Van Halen completed their tour in support of 2012's A Different Kind of Truth, Wolfgang began working on his solo records. He then asked his father if it would be OK to use the Mammoth band name. "Yeah, I was nervous, I asked for his permission. Gosh, it was around 2014. I was like, 'Hey Dad, I got a question: Would it be cool if I called the band this?' And he was like, 'Yeah, why would you worry about that?' He was really stoked."
In 1971, the Van Halen brothers and Stone were calling themselves Genesis. However, they soon learned that a British progressive rock band had beaten them to it, and already had records in shops. They decided to change it to Mammoth, and began building their reputation playing parties throughout Southern California.
But Mammoth met the same fate. At some point in the second half of 1973, they received a cease-and-desist letter from a San Fernando, Calif.-based group that was also using Mammoth. Needing to make another change, the brothers -- who by now picked up Anthony and Roth -- wanted to call themselves Rat Salad in honor of the Black Sabbath song. But the singer suggested using Eddie and Alex's last name, and they officially became Van Halen.
Earlier today, Wolfgang released his debut solo single, "Distance." Last week, he said that the song was "initially written for the debut album, but was going to be held for a later time. As my pop continued to struggle with various health issues, I was imagining what my life would be like without him and how terribly I'd miss him. While this song is incredibly personal, I think anyone can relate to the idea of having a profound loss in their own life."
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