Rumors of a Van Halen super tour with both David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar fronting the band circulated frequently during the past few years, often egged on by Hagar himself. But it wasn’t until after Eddie Van Halen died that the world learned that the trek was actually in the planning stages just about two years ago.
“At a certain point it turned into what we joked as the Kitchen Sink Tour,” Wolfgang Van Halen recently told Howard Stern. “Cause after [my dad] was OK with that arrangement, it was like, ‘Fuck, let’s get Dave and Hagar and even [Gary] Cherone, and let’s just do a giant fucking awesome thing.’ … It just didn’t pan out, unfortunately. It would have been insane.”
A tour like that would have been almost without precedent in rock history. Black Sabbath never played a show where Ozzy Osbourne and Ronnie James Dio both fronted the band. Original Fleetwood Mac singer-guitarist Peter Green never made it onstage near Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. And Journey fans are still waiting to see Steve Perry sing alongside Arnel Pineda.
Foreigner did bring out original singer Lou Gramm to sing alongside replacement vocalist Kelly Hansen for a handful of 40th-anniversary gigs in 2017, and Genesis brought out Peter Gabriel for one-off appearances with Phil Collins in 1978 and 1982, but neither of these situations led to an actual tour.
One of the only times a band managed to tour with singers from two eras took place in 2013 when Survivor went out with Dave Bickler and Jimi Jamison. The group started with Bickler in 1978 and he sang their 1982 breakthrough hit “Eye of the Tiger” from the Rocky III soundtrack, but just months after the song hit, he had to step aside due to vocal issues. He was replaced by Jamison and the band went on to land hits with “The Moment of Truth” from The Karate Kid, “Burning Heart” from Rocky IV, and the power ballads “I Can’t Hold Back” and “The Search Is Over.”
Survivor went on hiatus in 1989, though Jamison continued to work and in 1993 he recorded the iconic Baywatch theme song “I’m Always Here.” That same year, Survivor re-formed with Bickler again in the front. They kicked him out in 2000 and brought Jamison back, only to part ways with him yet again in 2006. It was a ridiculous game of musical chairs, and in 2013 the band decided to simply give the fans what they always wanted and tour with both singers.
“Our fans are the best and I can’t think of a better way to give them our best,” said Survivor guitarist Frankie Sullivan. “With this line-up, and both Dave and Jimi in the band, we can perform all of our hits.”
Here’s video of the band playing “Eye of the Tiger” with both Bickler and Jamison at the Sweden Rock Festival on June 6th, 2013. This is Bickler’s big moment, but he graciously lets Jamison sing the second verse and they lock voices for the chorus. Despite all their years of fronting the band separately, they were actually friends and had a blast playing these shows.
Tragically, the grand Survivor reunion ended on September 1st, 2014, when Jamison died of a hemorrhagic brain stroke caused at least partially by methamphetamine use. They carried on briefly with Bickler and newcomer Cameron Barton, but they let Bickler go in 2016. Barton is now their sole lead singer.
A Van Halen tour with Roth and Hagar would have been a bigger deal than the Survivor tour with Bickler and Jamison by a magnitude of about 10,000. Wolfgang Van Halen has ruled out carrying on the family band, but a show paying tribute to his father is possible at some point down the line. If that happens, fans might finally see Roth and Hagar together on the same stage after all these decades of waiting.