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Van Halen’s Michael Anthony Confirms: Would-Be Reunion Sputtered Out

Jamie’s crying, and so is everybody else who imagined the world might be getting an original-lineup Van Halen reunion tour in 2019, as previously hinted.

“If things would have worked out as they were starting to go and it was planned, we probably would have been in pre-production rehearsals with Van Halen right now,” bassist Michael Anthony told SiriusXM’s “Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk” — explaining why the group he regularly plays with, Sammy Hagar & the Circle, built a hiatus into their plans for this summer.

Rumors were rampant in the winter that the classic-era roster of the group might be playing together this summer for the first time since 1984. Singer David Lee Roth rejoined in 2007, but his reentry did not overlap with the exit of Anthony following a 2004 tour with Hagar in the frontman position for the final time. The group toured in 2007-08, 2012 and 2015 with Eddie Van Halen’s son Wolfgang Van Halen on bass, outings that were generally well received but still left a hunger for an end to the estrangement from Anthony.

Now the bassist has explained what happened with this latest would-be tour, or more to the point, what didn’t.

“I can tell you, I spoke with [Van Halen manager] Irving Azoff last October — that’s when I first heard from him — and he asked if I would be interested in any kind of a reunion,” Anthony told SiriusXM. “And I told him, I said, ‘Yeah.’ I was finishing up a couple shows with Sammy and I said, ‘Yeah, I’d be interested to hear what you guys have going on. So I’ve got these few dates left, and give me a call.’ And I never heard a call back. And then, right after the first of the year… Dave’s business manager or lawyer or something got ahold of me about a meeting or something. And so at that point, I gave it over to our manager, because I didn’t wanna start getting in this whole thing — I wanted to do it the correct way, especially after the way things went for me in 2004. And we won’t get into that.” (The 2004 tour is when Anthony reportedly agreed to give up rights and be a salaried employee of the band, a situation that led to resentment. Anthony has said he hasn’t spoken with any of the other members in the 15 years since.)

“From what I’ve heard, and I haven’t spoken to any of the guys, that they were gonna try to plan a thing for this summer,” he added. “And for whatever reason… My people were never… They never got in touch with us about any kind of a contract or any kind of a meeting to discuss or whatever. And the next thing I knew, the plug got pulled on it.”

In an interview late last year with Vulture, Roth had broadly hinted at huge plans for the “original thing” of Van Halen in summer 2019, supposedly involving Yankee Stadium and several other superstars, although Anthony’s name did not specifically come up.

“When we come back through town in the summertime and do the original thing, maybe somewhere sportin’, maybe with somebody famous. I’ll make sure we get you all tickets,” he told Vulture in an interview published in December. “You know, next time my rock band will be playing the same place that the Yankees play. Okay?… The band is solvent. And I can say that I contacted colleagues about being part of the show — Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, Jason Aldean, the Foo Fighters, (Eric) Church, and (Chris) Stapleton. And they all said that, if everything happens, they would certainly be involved… When Van Halen happens, I’m willing to answer all of these questions. And that’s around the corner by a hundred days. … We’re on a James Bond schedule, every three-and-a-half summers, so you don’t go, “Weren’t you just here?” and then we’d start selling fewer tickets. That happened with the third ‘Pirates’ movie. Johnny Depp was scarred, emotionally. But classic rock is great.”

Lest anyone think a Van Halen tour without Anthony is imminent, Roth lessened expectations for that in an interview he just did for Toazted in the Netherlands. “Plenty of music coming up,” Roth said. “I’m going to be seeing the Van Halen brothers in the next week or so. We’ll be talking what’s coming up then.” Asked if that augured for “new Van Halen music with your vocals,” the singer answered, “I make no promises, but I make promises, but I don’t. I have to publicize now that I’m not talking.”

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