It’s been a week now since Eddie Van Halen died and the shock is still reverberating throughout the rock community. Rumors of his ill health circulated for years, but nobody in or around the band commented on them at any point beyond a few cryptic remarks from David Lee Roth about Van Halen being “finished” since Eddie wasn’t “answering the bell this time.”
Eddie was rarely seen in public following the conclusion of Van Halen’s 2015 summer tour. The only thing they were promoting at that point was a live album recorded at a 2013 gig at the Tokyo Dome in Japan, so they had to work a little harder than usual to sell the tour. That included playing “Jump” on Ellen and performing “Panama” at the Billboard Music Awards. Check out the latter performance right here.
In the final years of Eddie’s life, Sammy Hagar made no secret about his desire to return to the band for a mega stadium tour where he’d finally share the stage with David Lee Roth. Earlier this year, he said that people from the Van Halen camp reached out to him and Michael Anthony in 2019 about the possibility of making this happen. In a new interview with Pollstar, Van Halen manager Irving Azoff said such a tour was indeed in the planning stages last year.
“We had lots of stops and starts, but there was every intention of doing a summer stadium tour (in 2019), and as the cancer moved around, [Van Halen] was physically unable to do it,” Azoff said, noting that the shows would have featured special guests like Metallica and Foo Fighters. “There is no doubt in my mind that it would have been massive.”
Sadly, this will now go down in rock history as one of the greatest tours that never happened, right up there with Led Zeppelin’s aborted reunion tour in 2008, the Traveling Wilburys’ 1989 tour that didn’t make it past the talking stages, and Paul McCartney’s dream in 1969 about bringing the Beatles back to clubs for a short run of shows.
Any sort of future for Van Halen is very hard to imagine at this point, but a post-pandemic tribute show with Wolfgang on guitar that reunites Alex Van Halen with David Lee Roth, Michael Anthony, and Sammy Hagar would be a great way to honor Eddie’s legacy. Let’s hope they find a way to make that happen.