A new Esquire feature story on Eddie Van Halen reveals that his cancer battle has been much more involved that was originally thought.
Initially diagnosed with cancer of the tongue in 2000, Van Halen underwent an aggressive treatment plan that included an experimental radioactive rinse and cutting out a piece of his tongue. The guitarist’s life took some twists and turns over the remainder of the decade, as he fought off a devastating substance abuse problem. Not until now, though, has the news of a cancer recurrence — two, in fact — been widely reported.
David Curcurito of Esquire magazine says Van Halen’s doctors found cancer cells in his throat last spring and then were forced to take yet another chunk of his tongue last fall.
“I haven’t talked about this, because I don’t talk about this,” says the famously reclusive Van Halen, who finally kicked his smoking habit by switching to electronic cigarettes.
[YOU DON’T MESS WITH DIAMOND DAVE: The unflappable David Lee Roth stopped recent Van Halen concert at Manchester, New Hampshire, to deal with a fan fight; watch the video here!]
Since then, Van Halen has reunited with David Lee Roth for the Different Kind of Truth album and tour, both of which are credited in large part in the Esquire piece to the presence of Van Halen’s son, Wolfgang. Not only is the now-21-year-old taking over for original Van Halen band founding bassist Michael Anthony, Cucurito credits the younger Van Halen with picking out the running order for the new studio project, running the tour practices and serving in general as the band’s “field marshal.”
Earlier this year Wolfgang’s mother Valerie Bertinelli, Van Halen’s ex-wife, underscored his role in the revamped Van Halen dynamic, as well: “The only way this tour is happening is because Eddie gets to play with his son Wolfie. Otherwise this tour wouldn’t be going on. It really wouldn’t.”
Anthony played bass with Van Halen from 1974-2003, but saw his involvement dramatically lessen in recent years. He only played on three cuts on his final full-length original project with Van Halen, 1996’s Van Halen III. Anthony is now a member of Chickenfoot, with Sammy Hagar — who himself replaced Roth as frontman for Van Halen from 1985-96, and then again from 2003-05.
Truth is the first full-length studio recording featuring guitarist Eddie Van Halen, drummer Alex Van Halen and Roth since 1984.
Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on Van Halen. Click through the headlines for complete reviews …
VAN HALEN – A DIFFERENT KIND OF TRUTH (2012): It’s interesting that A Different Kind of Truth doesn’t always go for the easy hook (recalling Fair Warning), something that may surprise late-arriving fans of keyboard-driven pop successes like “Jump” (and certainly the subsequent period with David Lee Roth’s successor, Sammy Hagar). Some of the material requires more than one listen to completely absorb, and Anthony’s cloud-bursting tenor is missed at times. But A Different Kind of Truth has a way of burrowing in. That’s largely thanks to the presence of Roth, of course. He’s always good for spandex-splitting laugh or two.
SHOWS I’LL NEVER FORGET: DAVID LEE ROTH, JUNE 24, 1988: What will always stick with me about that night was the showmanship. For whatever Roth might lack in vocal chops, he’s always made up for in stage presence and performance. On that night, he was on top of his game, bouncing around all over the stage, kicking and leaping with manic energy. At one point, he rappelled from the lights to the stage. He performed “Panama” from a boxing ring suspended from the roof of the arena and then rode a surfboard over the crowd back to the stage as he sang “California Girls.” It was a production drenched in the excess of the late 1980s, and I loved it.
SOMETHING ELSE! FEATURED ARTIST: VAN HALEN: A long-waited reunion with original lead singer David Lee Roth has Van Halen back in the news … and us digging through some old albums. Here’s a look back at a few favorite moments with Roth — and yes, Sammy, too — along with updated tour date information. Let’s start shredding!
ON SECOND THOUGHT: VAN HALEN – A DIFFERENT KIND OF TRUTH (2012): I stand corrected – and pleasantly surprised, too. When I went into my first listen of Van Halen’s A Different Kind of Truth, I was expecting a steaming pile of mediocrity. Instead, the album is loaded with big, crazy riffing from Eddie Van Halen. As I listen to the record, I keep coming back to one word – swagger. That could be a complete review of this album in itself. It’s something that the best work from Van Halen has always had, and something that, for me, was often missing in the post-DLR version of the band.
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