Van Halen fans aren’t the only ones lobbying for the return of original bassist and background vocalist Michael Anthony. So is frontman David Lee Roth, in a surprising new admission.
Talking to Rolling Stone, Roth not only insists that Anthony’s sky-high tenor was a critical element to the Van Halen sound — echoing a complaint that some had about Van Halen’s otherwise well-received Roth reunion disc A Different Kind of Truth — but also that he has made overtures with Eddie Van Halen about bringing Anthony back into the fold.
Anthony, after the split with Van Halen, ended up joining fellow band alum Sammy Hagar in Chickenfoot. His bass chair is now occupied by Eddie Van Halen’s son Wolfgang, making a change there seem highly unlikely.
In fact, considering the on-again, off-again nature of Roth’s relationship with Van Halen, this could signal the end of his own tenure — again.
[SOMETHING ELSE! REWIND: You would have thought, in compiling our list of the worstest of the worst Van Halen, and we do mean ever, that it would just be loaded up with songs by Gary Cherone. Think again.]
Valerie Bertinelli, Wolfgang’s mother and Eddie Van Halen’s ex-wife, said that the reunion would never have happened without the steadying presence of her son.
Still, Anthony was part of the original demos which eventually grew into last year’s reunion project, and the loss of his signature vocals was sorely missed.
“Clearly, vocals are every bit as much a component of success as a rhythm section or a guitar solo,” Roth tells Rolling Stone, “and there’s an old expression saying, ‘They don’t go home singing the lighting show, they don’t go home singing the production.’ You’re right, they sing my words and my melodies. And what we have at our fingertips is arguably one of the greatest high tenor voices ever – that was in Michael Anthony.”
Roth says he has even tried to broker a peace, hoping perhaps the group could get together for a friendly jam to smooth things over.
“Let’s go woodshed,” Roth says. “But so far there hasn’t been any response. … I would always look forward to that reunion, and I would always look forward to writing a whole variety of material.”
Roth’s initial tenure as lead singer lasted from 1972-85. He returned in 1996 to record a pair of new songs for a greatest hits package before everything fell apart, then was gone again until an even more brief stint in 2001, then returned to tour again in 2007-08, before finally getting back together for Different Kind of Truth.
Anthony played bass with Van Halen from 1974-2003, but saw his involvement dramatically lessen in his final years. He only played on three cuts on his final full-length original project with Van Halen, 1996′s Van Halen III. Anthony’s current Chickenfoot bandmate Hagar replaced Roth as frontman for Van Halen from 1985-96, and then again from 2003-05.