Our Thoughts On Van Halen Without Michael Anthony!


So a friend calls me up the other day to see if I'd be interested in catching the Mighty Van Halen when they come to an EnormoDone near us this summer. Yep, David Lee Roth, Alex Van Halen, and Eddie Van Halen will be hitting the road this summer to help an entire generation relive their teenage years at $80 a pop and up.  They will hire babysitters, pay $20 for parking, $12 for warm beer in a plastic cup, and $40 for a shirt to say they were there, all for the express purpose of hearing "Running With The Devil", "Panama", "Hot For Teacher", and all the other familiar "Dave-era" VH classics performed live by the band who made them famous in the first place.

The only thing missing will be the lovable shit-eating grin and unmistakable backing vocals of one Michael Anthony, who will not be included in the night's festivities due to a falling out with Eddie Van Halen almost ten years ago that led to his firing from the band that he joined in 1974.

When asked "Do you wanna see Van Halen?", my inner child's natural response is to shout "Hell yes!" and start bouncing around the room, playing air guitar with a tennis racket.  After all, I'm a dude.  It's in my DNA to want to see Van Halen.  Of course, the ladies also dig Van Halen, which is what separates them from, say, Rush.



My inner child, of course, is still rooted in 1978 and the Van Halen HE thinks he's going to see is the 1978 version, back when the boys in the band still had hair.  And what glorious hair it was.  Back in those days, Dave, Eddie and Alex all had hair that would've made Samson jealous.  Truth be told, my inner child's heart might not be up to seeing the modern-day Van Halen, with Bill Engvall on lead guitar and his slack-jawed son Wolfie standing where Michael Anthony ought to me and it has nothing to do with hair.  It does. however, have everything to do with respect.

See, back when Eddie crawled into a bottle and shut out the rest of the world, Michael Anthony played a few gigs with Sammy Hagar's band just for shits and giggles.  He's a musician, after all, and just wants to play, but Eddie took the move as such a slight that when Eddie agreed to a reunion tour with Mr. Hagar, Sammy had to demand that Michael Anthony be a part of said Van Halen tour.  Even then, it took Anthony agreeing to a massive pay cut for Eddie to finally relent.

At the end of the tour, Eddie parted ways with both Sammy and Michael once and for all.

So when Eddie and Diamond Dave patched things up a couple years later, one would have thought that Dave would also demand that Anthony be made a part of the reunited Van Halen, but Eddie was having none of it.

"Well, who's gonna play bass?" Dave asked.

"Wolfie," replied Eddie.

Now, I wasn't there, but I can imagine Dave's response.  It probably went a little something like this:

"Okay."

Instead of saying, "Are you fucking kidding me, Ed?  You want your fifteen-year-old son - a kid who didn't even pick up a bass until yesterday, to replace Michael Anthony?!", Dave was as quiet as a church mouse on Sunday.

See, from almost the very moment Diamond Dave left the band in 1985, he's been trying to get back in and the many close-calls along the way have been absolutely heartbreaking for him.  More than anything, Roth knows how fragile Eddie's decision-making process can be where he is concerned so the last thing he wants to do is jeopardize this tenuous union before the mighty Van Halen has the chance to take flight once again.


(The interview where Wolfie admits he didn't pick up the bass until he was 15 - the year he joined Van Halen.)

Oh, how I would have loved to hear that Diamond Dave had also put his foot down and demanded that Michael Anthony be made a part of the band again, too, but it was not to be and, as a result, both he and we are stuck with Wolfie.

In a way, Eddie Van Halen has given us all an ultimatum: If you want Van Halen, you gotta take Wolfie, too and that's the saddest part of all because not only is Michael Anthony being robbed of the opportunity to take part in the band's reunion, so are we.

Now, maybe you're fine with going to see a Guns 'n' Roses with Axl Rose and eight other guys who all look like Nikki Sixx's corpse in varying degrees of decomposition, but that is not Guns 'n' Roses.

And, sure, we've still got 3 out of 4 original members of Van Halen onstage, but we could just as easily have all four if not for some petty grudge that Eddie holds against Michael for being bored out of his skull waiting for Eddie to dry out and playing a few shows with Sammy.

Eddie "Engvall" Van Halen
Ask anyone, Michael Anthony is one of the all-time nice guys in all of rock and roll.  The level of animosity and exclusion foisted upon him is completely undeserved.  Most insulting of all, though, is the fact that Eddie think that he can simply replace Anthony with some kid who, quite frankly, looks like he'd rather be home playing Call of Duty and demolishing another bag of Cheetoh's.  To say that Wolfie looks completely out-of-place on that concert stage is the understatement of the millennium, too.

When he doesn't manage to make himself completely invisible, Wolfie tends to lumber around the stage with all the finesse of a teenage Paul Bunyan stomping on villagers, which is about as fun to watch as the real Bill Engvall try to play "Eruption".

Sure, maybe Eddie Van Halen just wants to spend time with his kid.  That's all fine and dandy, Ed, but do it on your own time.  For the amount of money you're asking us to pay to see Van Halen this summer, we, every last one us, deserve to see Michael Anthony.

Until that day comes, that empty seat you see up front will be me sitting out yet another Van Halen show that my inner child has waited his whole life to see.  I hope you're happy, Ed.



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