Sammy Hagar and the Circle haven’t officially postponed their upcoming summer tour with Whitensake and Night Ranger yet, but right now it’s hard to imagine major concerts taking place as soon as July. Nobody knows how this is going to play out, but it’s quite possible that the entire 2020 concert season will get pushed back to next year.
Hagar and his bandmates Michael Anthony, Jason Bonham, and Vic Johnson are quarantining at their homes just like the rest of us, but earlier this week, they teamed up to perform the Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” thanks to the magic of the internet.
They’ve never tackled the song in concert, but Hagar and Anthony did play it a handful of times in Van Halen. They also played “My Generation” at a few gigs in 1988 on the OU812 tour. Eddie and Alex Van Halen were huge fans of the Who growing up and they even learned to play Live at Leeds and Tommy straight through while in their pre–Van Halen band Mammoth.
Here’s video of Van Halen playing “Won’t Get Fooled Again” at 5150 Studios in 1993. As you can see, Eddie puts his own spin on the guitar intro, and the song is a great showcase for Michael Anthony’s background vocals and Hagar’s powerful voice. This was near the peak of the alt-rock revolution, but Van Halen were still getting their videos into heavy rotation on MTV and packing arenas around the globe.
As the Nineties went on, however, the band slowly collapsed. Their 1996 LP Balance generated a radio hit with “Can’t Stop Lovin’ You,” but Hagar left the band shortly after the tour wrapped. This marked the start of a chaotic period where David Lee Roth came back to record two songs for a compilation record and Extreme frontman Gary Cherone joined for a single album.
Roth rejoined the group in 2007 for a tour and they even managed to cut a new album, A Different Kind of Truth, in 2012. But the band has been totally AWOL since the end of their 2015 summer tour. Before the coronavirus shut down the entire concert industry, Roth was playing Van Halen classics at his new Las Vegas show and at arena gigs with Kiss. Hagar and Anthony, meanwhile, play a set heavy on Van Hagar–era songs with the Circle.
The only members of the band who haven’t been playing the music out on the road in recent years are the ones with the last name of Van Halen. Wolfgang Van Halen has been working on a solo album for about as long as it took Guns N’ Roses to make Chinese Democracy, while Eddie and Alex are living completely private lives. Unsourced reports surface every once in a while about the state of Eddie’s health or a mega stadium tour with Roth, Anthony, and Hagar, but they’re just rumors and nobody really knows what’s actually happening.
Most fans have stopped even trying to guess what the future holds for Van Halen. To quote a song they all seem to love, they’ve been fooled before trying to predict the future and they won’t get fooled again.