Former Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony appeared on The Mitch Lafon and Jeremy White Show. Anthony touched on his friendship with Sammy Hagar and the differences between Van Halen‘s Sammy Hagar era and David Lee Roth‘s era in the interview.

David Lee Roth had played a significant role in the growth of the Van Halen brand and its international prominence since the band’s early days. The legendary vocalist, who appeared in two separate periods with Van Halen, took part in seven albums and numerous tours with the band.

On the other hand, Sammy Hagar, who joined Van Halen after David Lee Roth left the band in 1985, was a perfect match for the band, making these two great vocals still compared to this day. Hagar appeared on four albums during his ten-year period with Van Halen. The first of these albums, 5150, received positive feedback from the rock community and peaked at number 1 on the Billboard chart.

Anyway, the band’s former bassist Michael Anthony compared Van Halen‘s Sammy Hagar and David Lee Roth‘s era in his last appearance on The Mitch Lafon and Jeremy White Show. Anthony also mentioned his friendship with Hagar when he was asked about how long they have been loyal to each other.

“A long time now,” Michael says. “When he first came in as a solo artist, played on a few shows that Van Halen had done. There were some outdoor shows that we did where he was an opening act or whatever. And I never knew him, though. I mean, I knew his music like everybody does. All the bands, they know each other. I know Eddie had met him, also, but I never actually met him until he walked into ‘5150.’

“After he and Eddie jammed, and he decided to come in and see what this Van Halen thing was all about. I don’t even think Sammy had any intention of joining the band at that point. I think he just wanted to come to the studio, see if the party, drugs, and drinking rumors were true.

”My introduction to him was just as the new lead singer. But we became fast friends. Because let’s put it this way – I owned two cars when he joined Van Halen. I had one and my wife had one. And by the next year or whatever, I owned 10 cars, and my wife hated me for that. She owed it all to Sammy Hagar.”

Michael Anthony Says ‘Sammy Hagar Brought a Whole New Element to Van Halen’

In Sammy Hagar vs David Lee Roth‘s comparison, Anthony seems to be on Sagar‘s side. Anthony admits that during the production process of the songs, while Roth stepped aside after writing the song, Sagar was with his bandmates even in the finer details.

“When ‘Jump,’ which was our only big single from the early days of Van Halen, Roth didn’t even want that song on the album, because he’s all, ‘Eddie, you’re a guitar god, man, you’re not supposed to be playing keyboards.’ And Eddie, he grew up classically trained. Piano, in addition to picking up guitar.

“When Sammy joined the band, I think it was just a natural progression of the band. We just continued writing and Sammy brought in this whole knowledge of being a guitar player himself, he understood structure of music and stuff like that. From that standpoint, where David would always write the lyrics and go, ‘Yeah, man, play that hard or whatever,’ Sammy‘s like, ‘Hey, you got this chord here, what if we play this chord or whatever, make this change.

He brought a whole new element, and it just kind of changed the dynamic of the band. We weren’t going to continue doing what we didn’t want to continue doing, what we were doing with Dave. Because that was with Dave. It’s the natural evolution within the way the band was evolving”

Last month, Sammy Hagar, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Van Halen, shared with his fans how this wonderful story began. In an interview with In Search of Excellence, Hagar talked about how things went with Eddie Van Halen in joining the band.

Eddie Van Halen says to Claudio, ‘Oh,’ Claudio says, ‘Oh, that car belongs to Sammy Hagar, you should call him, get him in your band,’” Hagar says. “Eddie goes, ‘You got his phone number?’ The guy says, ‘Yeah,’ and he sits right down in the office and calls me out of the blue. I just got home from a tour, been home two days after the VOA tour, maybe 120 shows.

“I was done, happy to be home, the best shape of my life though. I was like chiseled. He says, ‘Dave quit. Why don’t you come down and join our band?’ I said, ‘Oh man, I’m just getting off the road,’ and I said, ‘Give me a couple of days.’ He said, ‘Nah, come down tomorrow.’ I said, ‘When do you wanna do this?’ He said, ‘Come down tomorrow.’ I said, ‘You gotta give me a couple of days, man.’”

When Eddie Van Halen called Hagar, he had just completed the tour of his eighth studio album, VOA, and was back home to rest. Although Hagar said he needed a few days to rest, he could not resist because of Van Halen‘s persistence, and this is how the story that would last eleven years began.

“I just shaved my head,” he continues. “I cut all my hair off because my hair was trash from sweating every night in the lights, and it was like a haystack on top of my head. So I cut it all off after most tours, and I thought, ‘Man, I ain’t gonna go around with like this.’ He goes, ‘Why don’t you come out here to try to write songs. I got some ideas.’

As much as Hagar wanted to sing with Eddie Van Halen, he told his manager that he wasn’t too keen on joining the band because of the problems the band had with the previous vocalist, David Lee Roth. Somehow, the negotiations ended positively and the story that would last eleven years began.

“So, he talked me into it,” he says. “I called my manager and said, ‘I’d love to play with Eddie, but man, I don’t wanna be in that band.’ I’m thinking about their image because of the previous singer. I’m going out. I’m not that kind of guy. Anyway, I went down with him. The rest is history, Van Halen.”

28 COMMENTS

  1. Granted the has worn us all on the outside…. but the music is still alive and rekindle our youthful spirits. While Dave was the showman that punched you in the face with his primordial screams and freakish vocal range…. Sammy stepped in with a coolness that left Dave holding his…. let’s just say mic. Both era’s are distinctly different and almost completely different. Van Halen and Van Halen 2.0. In fact Wolfy is now in his own way by birthright Van Halen 3.0…🤟🌏 Standing on top of the world!

  2. I like both VAN HALEN eras but I think they’re different types of rock and roll. Dave was a harder type a nd Sammy was more melodic but love them both R.I.P. EDDIE The greatest guitar player of my generation I’m 54

  3. I liked Van Halen. I have every album they made. I was already a Sammy fan, having listened to him since his days in MONTROSE.
    He made such a fundamental change in Van Halen that most of the folks I know referred to the new incarnation of the band after Sammy joined as “Van Hagar”. The rest, as they say, is history. I had the privilege of seeing them in St. Petersburg, Florida on their FUCK (For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge) tour. They were fantastic. In fact, the fans in St. Pete were so anxious to see them that they booed Alice In Chains off the stage (they WERE truly horrible, though)!

  4. Hey Mike, I don’t think your wife owed your 10 cars to Sammy as much as she did to you selling your music to Pepsi and helping VH become Corporate Sellouts. Nothing wrong with making a little cheddar though. I think that your preference as a VH Fan depends more on when you grew up. I was there since the Debut. And let me tell you, I HATED “Jump” with a passion. My favorite era will always be The Diamond Dave era of VH. I just prefer the Heavier material. I do acknowledge Sammy as a major talent (that debut by Montrose is KILLER), and more importantly? A hell of a nice guy. I still need to try some of his Tequila!!!

  5. Both eras were great, but in different ways. Personally I am on the Roth side on Van Halen. It’s just more my kind of music. Hagar was also awesome in Montrose. I like both. Van Halen with Roth is my number one band of all time. Jump is my number one song of all time.

  6. Say what you want, talk up Sammy Hagar all you want, the facts speak for themselves! When David was with Van Halen they were propelled to super stardom and look at all the hits from Van Halen Van Halen 2 &, WACF. When they dropped off a little with fair warning and diver down they came back and smashed it with 1984! Let’s compare the hits with David and with Sammy in that pretty much says it all not to mention concert sales oh my God David Lee Roth is frontman was phenomenal I don’t know if any of you got to see him in action with them back in the day but oh my God he was amazing. English don’t get me wrong Sammy Hagar is who he is but Van Halen with David Lee Roth I’m sorry that was the best version of them always will be!

  7. People can say what they want. I love both Van Halens. DRL was more for the ladies which is fine. Sammy just made the whole band sound better live for me. All in all Sammy didn’t change the music of VH. That’s all on Eddie so if it’s “gay” it’s not Sam’s fault, Kathy.

  8. Michael Anthony does a killer bass solo. I saw VH many times & when he was a special guest with Sammy. The treatment he has received from VH has made me mad each time VH gets together. I call BS

  9. There is always a progression of a bands musical style, even when the lineup doesn’t change. Some say its a natural progression while to others it might seem totally unnatural. That’s because everyone who is truly passionate about music and one’s style forms their opinions about a bands sound the way it makes them feel and a lot of it is influenced by what is going on in their lives and what’s going on in the life’s of the band members. Not all great rock songs are made from new love or the impression one gets from a hot babe. Some of the best songs are created from feelings of lost hope, abandonment or raging hatred. Some bands lose loyal fans when the direction of the music changes. But everyone changes…fans and musicians and everyone goes through similar periods of discovery through rebellion, mistrust, isolation and even new love or lust, just not at the same time. That’s also why people can identify with new music that actually is old or realize a band they didn’t like before, they like now. My point is change, while not always good for everyone because it’s different, progresses into something positive for bands that make music for feelings they have as they grow together and don’t just sing about stuff that they once did, but lately have outgrown. Musicians write music for different reasons, but I think the one’s who go the distance write about personal experiences and how it affected them rather than write songs to please their fans. Change is good and while not always instantly recognized, becomes good. But if it doesn’t, more change is bound to occur.
    I’m 64 and I liked both VHs for different reasons at different times. Rude, crude and over the top is still okay, just not all the time.

  10. Don’t you think we’ve been over (and over) this far too many times now? I get it, Mike is Sammy’s guy, and he’s always going to come down on that team regardless.
    Love Dave, or dislike him he was the “guy” in the early ‘80’s, and he brought many a successful song to the band. Besides playing what did Mike bring (no disrespect) honestly? I mean Ed replaced him with his teenage son to play in a world class act, and the kid pulled it off! Get off Dave’s bone Mike, and move on…💥🧌

  11. That’s his opinion. The last VH album was way past their prime and yet I gravitate towards this record more than any Sammy album. I know many fans feel this way. I like the Hagar records for sure and he was probably easier and more musical to work with, but it still doesn’t matter to my ears and soul.

  12. M Anthony is just the bass player in Van Halen. Everyone that matters knows Van Halen was better with DLR. I don’t care how many #1’s they got with Hagar.

  13. I love all the comments about how Van Halen was “more unique,” “hard,” or “edgy” while Roth was with them. My impression of that period was that they were a great cover band with some amazing originals thrown in for good measure. Sammy brought in an era of completely original music. The Hagar era was different and far more original.

  14. I remember an interview with Sammy on KLOS in which sammy said the boys asked him to join up and he said he wanted get together and jam and see how it felt. Then he said he couldn’t wait to sign because he was thrilled at the prospect of being in an actual band again because he had not done so since Montrose. I love sammy- probably more do on his own. He did bring versatility to the band but eddie played a way meaner ace when it was just him.

  15. David got them noticed !!! He was the front man’s frontman – the one they all wanted to be …see: Vince,Brett,Janie..even brit Michael Monroe ..etc..etc..etc..

  16. Michael Anthony making comments crushes nobody because he was fortunate enough to play with Eddie. My 5 year old son could play his play his bass lines. No talent POS

  17. As a huge VH fan, 55, there is just no comparison. Nothing wrong with Sammy, seems like a great guy, but the music was so much better with DLR.

  18. Everyone needs to understand that there are different era’s here!!! The 1970’s Roth stuff was great back then but Hagar plays guitar and is a better musician / songwriter. It’s all up to what you want: A Crazy Guy acting like a clown or New & better advanced music with a true song writer. Everybody loves DLR but the facts remain….HE LEFT THE BAND- TOOK ALL THE EQUIPMENT!!! It’s because of him that Hagar came along and saved the group!!! Roth thought he was a Movie Star….more like a Joke!!! His songs make no sense: “Tatoo” & Ice “Cream Man” REALLY ???!!! Half of his songs back then were REMAKES- “Pretty Woman” “California Girls etc. The closest your going to get to VAN HALEN NOW IS: Hagar & the Circle…Mikey is killing it with the old stuff!!! Sounds better than DLR. Who, by the way can’t sing for shit anymore!!!!

  19. David Lee Roth will always be the original and best frontman entertainer for Van Halen. His splash of style and energy was fantastic on stage. Nobody will ever be able to take his place. In my personal opinion he was and still is the superior choice over, “what’s that other singer’s name again, LOL.

    With any band, you can’t mimic or improve from the original singer or other band mates. They may have some talent but they will never hold a candle to Diamond Dave, and this also goes for Eddie Van Halen, RIP.

    FOR THE OTHER SINGER THAT TOOK OVER FOR DAVID LEE ROTH, HE STILL CAN’T DRIVE 55, LMFAO!

  20. Sammy rules and you all know it. If Davey boy be wouldn’t have left VH would have been toast. Sammy saved the band and brought it to a whole new level. DLR’s most famous line “Hey you, who said that, baby how you been?”. Wow that is some real deep shit. Haha

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