Billboard Music Awards pays tribute to Eddie Van Halen

Photo by Anthony Catalano, used via Flickr creative commons license

Last night, the Billboard Music Awards honored the late Eddie Van Halen, who died earlier this month at the age of 65. In honoring the late hard rock icon, the awards show rebroadcast the band’s 2015 performance of “Panama” from the Billboard Music Awards, which marked the first time that the newest lineup of the band—which also featured original vocalist David Lee Roth and Van Halen’s son Wolfgang on bass—had performed live on TV. Following the re-airing of the group’s 2015 live performance, the awards show cut to a lone shot of Eddie Van Halen’s trademark red, white and black striped Frankenstrat guitar lit by a lone spotlight on stage in silence, serving as a memorial for the late guitar icon.

Kelly Clarkson, who hosted the awards, introduced the performance: “A few days ago a true giant was taken from us, Eddie Van Halen. He was a legendary guitarist, an amazing musician and an incredible songwriter. Five years ago, he brought his band to the Billboard Music Awards stage in Las Vegas for one of their rare live TV performances. And hat made that moment even more special is that he was joined by his son Wolfgang.”

Following the performance, Clarkson added, “That moment is one that all who saw it will always remember.”

The awards show was aired from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood without an audience, and was rescheduled for the fall after originally planned for being held on April 14. Watch Clarkson’s introduction to the performance below.

While 2015 was the first time that Van Halen had ever performed at the Billboard Music Awards, the group was presented with the award for #1 Album Rock Artist at the 1991 edition of the awards following the release of their album For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge.

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Words by Jeff Terich