A little more than two weeks before Van Halen kick off their American summer tour, Eddie Van Halen granted a rare interview to Billboard where he revealed the truth about the state of his relationship with David Lee Roth. “He does not want to be my friend,” the guitarist told writer Chuck Klosterman. “How can I put this: Roth’s perception of himself is different than who he is in reality. We’re not in our 20s anymore. We’re in our 60s. Act like you’re 60. I stopped coloring my hair, because I know I’m not going to be young again.”
The guitarist also said that a new Van Halen album is not likely to surface anytime soon. “It’s hard, because there are four people in this band, and three of us like rock and roll. And one of us likes dance music,” he said. “And that used to kind of work, but now Dave doesn’t want to come to the table.”
The guitarist saved his most scathing words for former Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony, who was pushed out of the group after their 2004 reunion tour with Sammy Hagar. “Every note Mike ever played, I had to show him how to play,” Van Halen said. “Before we’d go on tour, he’d come over with a video camera and I’d have to show him how to play all the parts.”
Van Halen shockingly refuses to concede that Anthony’s background vocals were vital to the group’s sound. “Mike’s voice is like a piccolo trumpet,” he said. “But he’s not a singer. He just has a range from hell. Mike was just born with a very high voice. I have more soul as a singer than he does. And you know, people always talk about Mike’s voice on Van Halen songs, but that’s a blend of Mike’s voice and my voice. It’s not just him.”
Popular on Rolling Stone
When reached for comment, Anthony remained gracious. “I am proud to say that my bass playing and vocals helped create our sound,” he told Billboard. “I’ve always chosen to take the high road and stay out of the never-ending mudslinging, because I believe that it ultimately ends up hurting the Van Halen fans.”
Despite his complete lack of relationship with Roth and their musical differences, Eddie is still quite willing to tour with him. “I think it’s now built into people’s DNA, that it just won’t be Van Halen if it’s not Roth’s voice,” he says. “You make music for people. Otherwise, just play in your closet. And how do you reach the most people? By giving them the band that they know. To do it any other way would be selfish.”
Back in 1998, the group attempted to tour with a third singer, Extreme’s Gary Cherone. “It was a strange thing with Cherone,” says Van Halen. “We were getting ready to go on tour, and all of a sudden, I see this John Travolta outfit — these big lapels and a crazy jacket. He’s like, ‘This is my stage outfit.’ That’s when I realized it wasn’t going to work. But I don’t dislike Gary at all.”
Van Halen have been touring with Roth since 2007, playing a show centered around their vast catalog of hits, though the Billboard article notes that they’re planning on breaking out rare tunes this summer like “Dirty Movies,” “Drop Dead Legs” and “Top Jimmy.” The tour begins July 5th at the White River Ampitheater, Washington and wraps up October 4th at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.
Read the full article at Billboard.com.