Michael Anthony says he was watching a news conference about the reformation of Van Halen like everyone else when he found out that he’d been replaced by Wolfgang Van Halen — son of band leader Eddie Van Halen.
Yet the ever-affable Anthony — a founding bassist of the band who had played on every previous Van Halen release — says he took it all in stride.
The reformulated Van Halen, now boasting fellow original member David Lee Roth out front again, went on to record a comeback effort based in part on some leftover songs from Anthony’s tenure. Anthony declined to sue Eddie Van Halen and Co. for royalties, while refocusing on his subsequent work with Chickenfoot — a band that also includes Sammy Hagar, a fellow Van Halen band alum.
Talking to For Bass Players Only, Anthony reminds us all that he’d known Wolfgang since birth — and that he’d always admired the youngster’s playing skills. More importantly, he understands Eddie Van Halen’s desire to play with another family member.
That’s why the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer has consistently wished Wolfgang well in his new role, and — incredibly, when you think about the way the news arrived — continues to do so even today.
“I think he’s a great kid,” Anthony says in this clip. “I mean, obviously, I’ve known him since he was born. He’s a great musician. He’s a great bass player. He plays drums, guitar, bass and sings. His dad, Ed, wanted his son to play with him, so you know, that’s, you know, totally great. I mean, I found out that he was going to be playing bass [in Van Halen] with everybody else — when they did their press conference. I wished him luck in a couple interviews I did, and hopefully he read those.”
Van Halen’s rhythm section is rounded out by Eddie’s brother Alex Van Halen.