Over his lengthy stint in Van Halen, Michael Anthony stood beside two of the most distinctive frontmen in rock history — David Lee Roth between 1974-85 and Sammy Hagar from 1985–96. Both eras have their fans, and their detractors. But what’s stood the rest of time is the way their unique personas — with Anthony’s signature high-flying vocal assists — helped define Van Halen.
“Lead singers are a different breed,” Anthony tells the Niagara Gazette. “You have got to have the charisma to be able to pull it off.”
Nailing down which one was better, perhaps as expected, proves difficult for Anthony. He says both Roth and Hagar have their key attributes, but he might just be leaning toward his current bandmate. Anthony and Hagar formed Chickenfoot after their twin departures from Van Halen, and the bassist has also worked with Hagar in solo situations.
“To compare him with David Lee Roth,” Anthony says, “back in the day Dave would have this thing he did onstage and stick to it — whereas with Sammy, you never know what is going to come out of his mouth. Sammy has no qualms with changing up the setlist, either. He always keeps it interesting.”