Original lineup was to tour with major special guests
Longtime Van Halen manager, Irving Azoff, confirms that Van Halen had planned to reunite with its original lineup of vocalist David Lee Roth, bassist Michael Anthony, guitarist Eddie Van Halen and drummer Alex Van Halen for a 2019 stadium tour. Following Eddie’s death from cancer earlier this week, Azoff tells Pollstar that talks were underway, but never materialized, due to Eddie’s health.
“We had lots of stops and starts, but there was every intention of doing a summer stadium tour [in 2019], and as the cancer moved around, [Eddie Van Halen] was physically unable to do it,” Azoff says.
Azoff says the trek would’ve included major special guests such as Foo Fighters and Metallica joining in select cities.
“There is no doubt in my mind that it would have been massive,” he says.
This news corroborates what Roth said in late 2018 about a massive stadium trek. “[T]he 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.”
Around the same time, SiriusXM host and rock historian Eddie Trunk spoke about the rumors of the original lineup reuniting. He claims the “rumblings” were coming from a “reliable source” in the industry but were just rumors at the time.
“The rumors from reliable sources – but still rumors that are unconfirmed – is that the band will tour in 2019 with the original band, which would mean the return of Michael, and that there it’s gonna be some sort of stadium package.”
Early last year, second frontman Sammy Hagar also suggested the band may trek stadiums when he confirmed Anthony was contacted about rejoining the group after a years-long feud with the late guitarist.
“He got a call six months ago from management saying, ‘Are you interested?’ He said, ‘Yeah, you know, I’m doing a record with Sammy right now. It depends. We’re booking shows. You’d have to work around it.’ They said, ‘Okay, we’ll get back to you,’ and that was it. Mike totally has my blessing.”
However, Anthony dismissed those talks, only to later confirm he was actually approached by Van Halen’s management, but was left hanging with no answers.
Extreme guitarist Nuno Bettencourt says Eddie showed up at his doorstep during the recording sessions of Extreme’s forthcoming album when Eddie said he was planning a farewell to the world.
“He said he was super excited about reaching out to Michael Anthony to finally put the original VH lineup back together. Saying that he wanted to do one final tour and have Van Halen go out the way they came in…Together… Guns Blazing!” he writes on Instagram.
As you know, Sammy Hagar replaced Roth in 1985 with the band arguably earning its biggest success with albums such as 5150 and For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. A falling out later led to Hagar and Anthony’s departure. Years later, the band reunited with Roth and added Eddie’s son Wolfgang as its bassist and backing vocalist to complete what would become the final lineup.
Van Halen and Roth have reunited off and on for tours in recent years, releasing its potentially final album, A Different Kind of Truth, in 2012. In 2016, we reported that a reunion tour and album was set for the group’s 40th anniversary in 2018, but nothing solidified. It was also suggested that Hagar would some how “take part” of the festivities as he and Eddie exchanged tweets after years of silence between the pair. However, Hagar has stated several times in the past that he would never return to Van Halen without Anthony.
Van Halen died on October 6 at the age of 65 after a long battle with throat cancer. The legendary guitarist passed with his wife Janine, son Wolfgang and brother and drummer Alex Van Halen at his side at a Santa Monica hospital after doctors discovered it had spread beyond his throat and into his brain and other organs.
Hagar has confirmed that he and Eddie had squashed their decades-long feud earlier this year when they began exchanging texts. In a letter sent to Howard Stern, who read it over the air on his SiriusXM show Wednesday morning (Oct 7), Hagar admits he was secretly in contact with Van Halen in the months leading up to the guitarist’s death, but kept it private as neither party wanted to start rumors and Eddie didn’t want the public knowing how bad his health really was.
Finally, Azoff confirms that unreleased Van Halen music will be explored as Eddie’s son and brother will comb through the vaults of massive recordings at Eddie’s 5150 studio.
“Wolf and Alex will go up to 5150, the studio in Ed’s house, but there’s been a lot of recording over the years. I can’t predict that for sure there will be anything new, but for sure they’re going to look at it.”