Former Van Halen bass player Michael Anthony has revealed he recently chatted by phone to drummer Alex Van Halen, ending a decade-long standoff.
The Van Halen brothers replaced him with guitarist Eddie’s son Wolfgang in 2007, leading to years of ill feeling, especially after old album covers were edited to remove Anthony’s image.
But the bassist is cautious about whether the thaw could lead to a reunion – and he’s admitted he has doubts over the supposed reconnection between Eddie and ex-singer Sammy Hagar.
Anthony tells Trunk Nation: “There’s a mutual friend of Alex’s and mine, Craig DeFalco. This is a guy who was a tech for me for a while. He did two or three Van Halen tours with me.
“We went out on my boat. I had a couple of cocktails, and next thing you know we’re talking about the band and the good old days and all that stuff.
“Next thing you know, I’ve got him holding his phone up, shooting a video, going, ‘Hey, Alex, man!’ Just talking about the good times.”
He also touched on the recent spate of big-name musician deaths, saying: “All these heroes of ours, people I grew up listening to, they’re starting to drop left and right.”
He continues: “Later on we were at my house, my buddy and myself, and his phone rings, and it’s Alex. He’s all, ‘Hey, tell Mike I said hi!’
“Next thing I know, he’s handing me the phone – ‘Here, Al wants to talk to you.’ I’m like, ‘What?’ This was this past May, and I hadn’t spoken to Alex in, like, ten or eleven years.”
Anthony reports the conversation consisted of “nothing heavy,” adding that they “didn’t want to get into anything about the band.’
“But it was just great to talk to him,” he says. “We talked for about 20 minutes and had a great conversation about life in general, getting older, and what’s going on around us in the music industry.”
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Hagar – who this year apologised to Van Halen for his part in their 10-year feud – sent Eddie Van Halen a text in January to wish him happy birthday, and reported that the guitarist had replied.
But Anthony, who was with Hagar at the time, says: “I do have kind of a personal spin on that one. Sammy goes, ‘Dammit, I’m going to wish Eddie a happy birthday,’ and so he said, ‘I hope you’re doing well.’ Eddie said, ‘Yeah, Sammy, I hope you’re doing well also.’
“The only thing I was thinking that seemed kind of odd – in all the years that Sammy was in Van Halen, Eddie never called him ‘Sammy.’ He always called him ‘Sam.’
“You know, Eddie’s wife is a publicist. I don’t know. That’s one thing I don’t know. But you know what? It was a nice, friendly gesture.”
Anthony says he’s “kind of over” the tension associated with Van Halen. Asked about a reunion he replies: “Being one of the biggest bands there ever was, it’s sad to see how everything dwindled down like it did. If we were going to go out, we should have gone out killing it all over the world.
“I’m a never-say-never guy. If we did it, though, it would have to be none of this four-separate-plans and this and that. I don’t know if it can ever be a brotherhood like it was before.”