Former Van Halen bassist defended by Sammy Hagar
By David Sands
June 22, 2015
Eddie Van Halen has a beef with Michael Anthony—and it’s gotten so ugly that Sammy Hagar has jumped in the ring to defend the ex-Van Halen bass player. The source of the most recent discord is a June 19 Billboard magazine interview where Eddie disses his former band mate’s talent.
Anthony has a long history with Van Halen, serving as the group’s bassist and backup vocalist from its inception in 1974 to the mid 2000s. It’s worth noting, for the sake of this dispute, that he’s also performed more recently with Van Halen’s former vocalist Sammy Hagar on solo tours and in a string of bands, including Chickenfoot and The Circle. What’s more, Anthony only joined in Van Halen’s 2004 reunion tour at Hagar’s insistence. Following his departure, Eddie’s son Wolfgang became the group’s bassist.
In the Billboard interview, which also takes swings at singer David Lee Roth and Hagar, Eddie doesn’t pull any punches sharing his thoughts on Anthony’s musical abilities.
“Every note Mike ever played, I had to show him how to play,” Van Halen alleged. “Before we’d go on tour, he’d come over with a video camera, and I’d have to show him how to play all the parts.” Eddie, who sang backup vocals alongside Anthony, also smack talks his singing, comparing the bass player’s voice to a “piccolo trumpet” and claiming to “have more soul as a singer than he does.”
In response to the accusations, Anthony told Billboard he was “proud” of his contributions to the band and wanted to stay out of any “mudslinging,” because he believed it “ultimately ends up hurting the Van Halen fans.”
The article notes that Eddie’s animosity towards Anthony could have roots in his professional relationship with Hagar, lack of participation in Van Halen songwriting and him not calling the guitarist when he was diagnosed with cancer (now in remission).
Hagar defended his friend’s talent in an expletive-laden video, called “In Defense of Mikey,” posted to his Youtube channel this past Friday.
“That is the biggest line of b******t I’ve ever heard in my life,” he said. “I was in the band 11 years, there was never a video camera involved of Eddie showing him what to play.”
Hagar remarked that Van Halen did occasionally ask Anthony to play in a repetitive one-note style, but said it was to cover the guitarist’s mistakes, especially during their 2004 reunion tour.
“Michael Anthony is [one of the] top five rock-and-roll bass players in the world. Any bass player will tell you that,” he added in his video. “Just listen to The Circle, he’s not just going boom-boom-boom-boom unless it’s called for.”
Eddie’s hostility has apparently been churning for some time. In 2007, images of Anthony were removed, then restored, on Van Halen’s band site and his name was erased from some song credits on ASCAP’s database.
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