One of the strangest aspects of this week’s Van Halen-reunion implosion was that the band had already begun working the press: There was that Rolling Stone interview and photo shoot, and several big magazines were negotiating for VH features. The L.A. Times was also working on a piece, and today, the newspaper hints that Eddie was the source of the band’s problems.
The Van Halen tour has been “shut down,” according to a top official at Live Nation, the huge concert promoter that finally surrendered in the face of the chaos surrounding guitar hero Eddie Van Halen. Roth, meanwhile, says he is unsure whether the mercurial guitarist will even travel to New York for the Hall of Fame induction on March 12.
“We have fragile politics in Van Halen; please accept that as a partial answer,” Roth said. “But I don’t know if the Van Halens are going to go….I hope they do, but right now, I just don’t know. Hope springs eternal.”
Specifics on the “chaos” surrounding Eddie aren’t provided, and the guitarist isn’t talking (he’s hired his girlfriend as his publicist, which is never a good sign). But the Times piece notes that his son, Wolfgang Van Halen, was a driving force in the attempted reunion:
Wolfgang, a precocious musician, was “the maestro” at the reconstituted band’s lone rehearsal, picking the set list and using his iPod to remind his father of the nuances of his solos on the old albums. Wolfgang was tapped by his father to play bass on the tour too, replacing founding member Michael Anthony, a jolting choice considering the child’s age and Anthony’s status as one of rock’s best backup singers and most relentlessly cheerful presences.
Eddie Van Halen remains, by all accounts, a gifted guitarist and rock auteur, but the decision to jettison Anthony in favor of a teenager may have been the first sign that the new enterprise was guided by creaky logic. Now all eyes will be on the Hall of Fame banquet to see who shows up, who performs and how Roth interacts with old rival Sammy Hagar, the man who replaced him as lead singer in 1985 and who will be inducted as an equal.
Our prediction: The Van Halens, Anthony, Roth, and Hagar will all show at the Hall Of Fame ceremony next month, do one incredibly hard-to-watch photo shoot, and part ways without playing. And then Roth will spend 20 minutes at the Buffet line, where he’ll amaze fellow diners with his story about how he first had crab cakes “on a Boulder-to-Salt Lake flight on the Diver Down tour,” finishing with a well-timed “skibadee-skoop-a-bop.”