The course of Van Halen’s history never did run smooth. Ever since the early 1980s — with a brief respite in the 90s — there has been some sort of feud going on between current and/or former members of the band.
There’s nothing you can do today. Your dad is bummed because Van Halen won’t stop fighting.
— Chris Regan (@ChrisRRegan) June 21, 2015
After Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony finally left Van Halen for good, the band languished in the hinterland for a while. Then the Van Halen brothers brought back original lead singer David Lee Roth, released an album, toured, and tried to get their groove back.
The trouble is, as much as people love “classic Van Halen,” there was something missing. Gone were the Michael Anthony high harmony vocals that were the hallmark of the classic and “Van Hagar” eras. Roth just isn’t up to par as a vocalist, even for his old stuff. And it is widely agreed that he certainly can’t sing the Sammy Hagar-era Van Halen material, where the band had its greatest sales and highest-charting hits.
“We sold 47 million records, whatever it was,” Hagar told Eddie Trunk about his years with Van Halen.
“We had all those number ones. Those are great songs – ‘Right Now,’ ‘When It’s Love,’ ‘Finish What You Started.’ They need to be played for the people that supported it during the era.”
Sammy Hagar does not have this problem. Michael Anthony has played with Hagar ever since they both left Van Halen. Right there is the vocal combo that sold millions of records. Hagar has played with great drummers since he left Van Halen, including Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers (in Chickenfoot) and Jason Bonham (in The Circle). As for guitarists, Joe Satriani and Vic Johnson seem to have no trouble filling the Eddie Van Halen-shaped hole, if it needs to be filled at all.
But now Sammy Hagar has hit a problem. He is out playing with his band The Circle — featuring the above-mentioned Michael Anthony, Vic Johnson, and Jason Bonham — which features songs from the Van Hagar era, Sammy’s solo years, and Led Zeppelin covers. But now he says he is running into some difficulty from the Van Halen camp. Hagar says Van Halen attorneys are trying to stop him from playing the songs that he wrote with the group.
Since Roth does not do Van Hagar-era material on Van Halen’s current tour, those songs are only played by Hagar and The Circle.
“If you want to know the truth,” Hagar told Trunk, “Eddie and Alex Van Halen are trying to stop me from being to even play those songs. They’ve had attorneys and people say, ‘No, he can’t play them.’ They will actually fight legally to try and stop me.”
“I’m going crazy – I’m going, ‘I’m going to break these guys’ necks.’ I’m going to fight these guys to the end. Those are my songs. I wrote every lyric and every melody on every one of those songs.”
— UltimateClassicRock (@UltClassicRock) June 18, 2015
[Image via Kevin Winter / Getty Images]