For a reunited Van Halen, there's no turning back

June 09, 2004

For a reunited Van Halen, there's no turning back

By Edna Gundersen, 


Van Halen's implosion, fed by bad blood and a cancer crisis, stalled the

career of a band as famous for its internal discord as its rock-metal

harmony. (Related story: There's only one way to rock

Now Van Halen is back to finish what it started. Friday, singer Sammy Hagar,

guitarist Eddie Van Halen, drummer Alex Van Halen and bassist Michael

Anthony will reunite onstage in Greensboro, N.C., first stop on a

blockbuster summer tour.

"It's shaping up as one of the top tours of the year," says Ray Waddell of

Billboard. "Tickets blew out very quickly. The band had very hard-core fans

at their peak, and there's a real thirst to hear those songs again. Plus,

there's a strong curiosity factor about Eddie."

Two years ago, fans were losing faith. The band remained idle after firing

Gary Cherone, the voice on 1998's poorly received Van Halen III. Eddie was

in isolation battling tongue cancer. Hagar and original frontman David Lee

Roth, both on the outs with Van Halen and barely civil to each other,

launched the gimmicky Sam & Dave tour. A reunion seemed unthinkable.

Then, in mid-2002, Eddie announced he was cancer-free after two years of

treatment. Last winter, Hagar initiated casual chats with Alex and Anthony.

"We didn't plan this," Hagar says. "I called Al about a dream I had,

strictly personal. It had been seven years, and we just started laughing. He

said, 'Let's get Ed on the phone.' Then I'm talking to Ed, who says, 'Come

on over; I've got some music I want you to hear.' Next thing I know, we're

in the studio."

Alex adds, "It's like an old shoe. It fit. It's what we were born to do."

Spanning three decades, the set list boast three new songs and hits

predating Hagar, who no longer balks at taking on Roth's role.

In the old days, I had a bug up my butt about doing their early hits,"

Hagar says. "I was more interested in doing what we'd just written. This

time, I was the first one to say, 'Let's open with Jump.' It's one of the

most important songs in the band's career, and I love singing it now.

"It's a humbling experience the second time around, and I have a new

appreciation for the band's history. There's not a better catalog on the