News Segment


January 25, 2007

The reunion that Van Halen fans have been awaiting for twenty-two years began in December, when David Lee Roth walked into Eddie Van Halen’s Hollywood home studio. There he rejoined the band for a rehearsal, singing fourteen Van Halen classics. “They totally got along on a personal level,” a source close to the reunion says. “And it sounded great.” At press time, Roth and the band were negotiating a deal for a major summer tour, which would be Van Halen’s first Roth-fronted tour since 1984. Along with a possible Police reunion, it would likely be among the year’s biggest box-office draws.

“Everything is up in the air,” Eddie Van Halen tells Rolling Stone. “We don’t want to say anything prematurely.” He suggested that the band is waiting on Roth: “People know where we are and that we’re making music. Whoever wants to come up can join us — they’re welcome.” But the famously contentious group may already be having communication problems. The source replies, “Dave is ready. He’s been ready.”

Meanwhile, Van Halen will be inducted on March 12th into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame — and it could prove to be an awkward night. Both Roth and his successor, Sammy Hagar, will be inducted, as will founding bassist Michael Anthony, who was recently replaced by Wolfgang Van Halen, Eddie’s fifteen-year-old son. “It’s a privilege and an honor,” Eddie says. “And outside of that, we don’t know what the hell is going on. . . . Hey, Sammy might not show up on time — because he can’t drive fifty-five. Sorry, bad joke.”

For his part, Hagar — who split with the band in 1996 and clashed with Eddie on a 2004 reunion tour — says he will be there. “Everyone wants to see a good train wreck, but I’d rather see a beautiful flight,” he says. “I’d have no problem sharing a stage with David.”

The last decade has been tumultuous for Eddie Van Halen and the band. After Hagar’s exit, a brief reunion with Roth flamed out, and they ended up releasing 1998’s Van Halen III with a third singer, Gary Cherone, formerly of Extreme. The album flopped, as did an accompanying tour. In 2002, Eddie got divorced, and he was later diagnosed with tongue cancer. He told Howard Stern in 2006 that he beat cancer “in a way that’s not exactly legal in this country.” In the fall, Eddie released two solo songs for the soundtrack of a porn movie called Sacred Sin.

Eddie, Wolfgang and drummer Alex Van Halen have been regularly rehearsing without Roth, and they’re working up songs for a new album. Eddie says that Michael Anthony is no longer in the group because of his decision to tour with Hagar as the Other Half. “Anthony and Hagar started their own band,” says Eddie. “You can’t be in two bands.”

The Van Halen brothers say they’ve been inspired by Wolfgang’s youth and energy — and that he’s changed the sound of the band. “Wait until you hear this kid play,” says Eddie. “I pick him up from school every day and we jam. We’ve got a shredding bass player now that’s laying down the law for Alex, so I get to weave in and out.” Alex says the situation reminds him of the days when he and Eddie would jam with their dad, a jazz musician, when they were kids. “Our father would look at us and say, ‘As long as you guys can hold your own, there is no age difference,’ ” says Alex.

Eddie says that the band is determined to tour this summer, whether Roth is on board or not. “There’s not just one person on this planet that can sing,” he says. “We’re not waiting on nothing.”

Adds Alex, “Whoever the singer is, they’ll be surrounded by Van Halens.”

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