After just three years in the saddle and only a single appearance on record -- last year's lackluster Van Halen III -- former Extreme frontman Gary Cherone has left Van Halen. Although label sources as well as Cherone's Web site confirm the split, Warner Bros. has not yet issued a press release on the matter.| A spokesperson for the label did allow there was "some truth to the rumor that Gary Cherone has left the band." Despite reports that the split was amicable, no one close to Van Halen seems surprised. "It was always a bad fit," says a source close to the band. "Van Halen seemed to be in one band, and Gary seemed to be in his own universe."
Bob Daitz, road manager for Van Halen since 1985, would not confirm whether Cherone was out of the band, but did evince regret. "I'm in New York and I'm a coast away from them. But if Gary is out of the band, I'll miss him. He had a good work ethic. But it's not a good work ethic that makes a marriage work, and the only ones who know about that are the guys in the band who are the core of this marriage."
Cherone predicted as much during on an online chat last April at www.cherone.com when he described his situation. "Van Halen is one of the greatest rock & roll bands of all time," he said, but explained that one of the most challenging aspects of joining the family business was "the fact that some of the fans will never want me or anyone else in the band."
Rumors abound that both David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar have been asked to rejoin, but Hagar's label, MCA Records, pooh-poohed the idea that the singer would return to the Van Halen fold. "Absolutely no truth to it," said his publicist. "He's not even thinking about it; he's busy wrapping up his tour." As for Hagar himself, he seems to have avoided that issue altogether. He released a statement Friday afternoon that read, "I only wish the best for Van Halen and Gary. I hope they all continue to make great music and have great success in whatever they do."
Roth's spokesperson said that there is no comment so far from his camp. It seems unlikely that Diamond Dave could be lured back into the fold after the band's aborted reunion in 1996, when Eddie Van Halen contacted him about recording two songs for the group's greatest hits album. A disagreement between the two former bandmates about Roth's subsequent no-holds-barred appearance on The Howard Stern Show submarined the reunion, and Cherone was hired shortly thereafter.
Now, along with speculation about a permanent replacement, comes a sticky recording issue. In July, the band headed into Eddie Van Halen's 5150 studio to lay down tracks for their thirteenth studio album, which is due some time next year. According to the official Van Halen website, the record is only half-complete.