Ex-Van Halen singers launch concert tour

May 31, 2002

May 31, 2002

Ex-Van Halen singers launch concert tour
Fri May 31, 5:57 PM ET
By Gary Graff

CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio (Reuters) - A decade ago, a joint concert tour by
deposed Van Halen frontmen David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar was as likely as an invitation for Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) at a White House state dinner.

But on Wednesday night at the Blossom Music Center outside Cleveland, the
two singers launched a 4 1/2-week summer package celebrating the music of
the hard-rock group, which sold nearly 70 million albums during Roth and
Hagar's separate tenures in the band.

"I think this is as close to the authentic version of this music you're ever
gonna hear," Hagar said prior to the first show. "I'm not sure there's ever
going to be any kind of Van Halen reunion with anyone."

The flamboyant Roth co-founded Van Halen in 1974 and fronted the band for
six multi-platinum albums that included hits such as "Jump," "Panama" and
covers of the Kinks' "You Really Got Me" and Roy Orbison's "(Oh) Pretty
Woman." He departed acrimoniously in 1985 over creative differences.

Hagar, a veteran with a successful solo career of his own, was tapped to
fill Roth's spot. Despite verbal sparring in the press between the two,
Hagar's 11-year tenure in Van Halen included four consecutive No. 1 studio
albums before he left in a disagreement over a 1996 greatest-hits set.

Roth rejoined Van Halen for two new songs on that collection, but the
reunion didn't stick. Van Halen is now inactive after an abortive experiment
with a third singer -- former Extreme member Gary Cherone -- and guitarist
Edward Van Halen's battle with cancer.

The group recently parted ways with its longtime label, Warner Bros.

Both Hagar and Roth's ambivalence toward their old group was evident at the
tour opener. Roth made nary a mention of Van Halen during his 80-minute set,
which drew all but one of its 19 songs from his Van Halen repertoire.

Hagar, meanwhile, slapped the head of a cardboard cut-out figure of Edward
Van Halen during his boozy 90-minute set, which featured eight numbers he
recorded with the band.

He referred to Roth as "my buddy" but acknowledged the two engaged in a bit
of damage control earlier this year when they met face-to-face -- for the
first time ever -- to discuss the tour.

"We got together and we actually got along pretty good," Hagar said. "The
first thing we brought up was, 'Hey, look, there's been a lot of stuff said
back and forth. Let's just start from here. Nothing ever happened. Nice to
meet you."'

The two are quick to add that while far from becoming fast friends, they
have achieved a truce and even hold out the potential that they may join
each other onstage at some point of the tour to perform a song or two
together. Hagar said Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony also is likely to appear for some of the shows on
the tour.

"When you hear about Roth/Hagar, Sam and Dave, it makes all the positive
sense in the world, particularly now when you watch CNN and see all these
more major conflicts going on around the world," Roth said. "What's more
unifying than Roth/Hagar, right? Next stop, Palestine!"