In an extensive interview with Billboard Eddie Van Halen dropped some verbal bombs on original/current Van Halen singer David Lee Roth and former bassist/backup vocalist Michael Anthony, who was replaced by Eddie's son Wolfgang Van Halen in 2006. In addition to detailing some of Van Halen's early history and surviving alcohol addiction, Eddie revealed that he doesn't listen to much music - other than when he is working on his own music.
The guitarist says the last album he bought was Peter Gabriel's 1986 album So. In the interview Eddie admits to being unfamiliar with the music of Metallica, Guns N' Roses, and Pantera; even though Eddie spoke at Dimebag Darrell Abbott's funeral and placed the guitar Eddie played on Van Halen II in the late Pantera guitarist's casket.
Eddie Van Halen revealed that he knew Van Halen's 1996 lineup with then-former Extreme frontman Gary Cherone was doomed just from seeing Cherone's stage clothes: "It was a strange thing with Cherone. We were getting ready to go on tour, and all of a sudden I see this John Travolta outfit -- these big lapels and a crazy jacket. He’s like, ‘This is my stage outfit.’ That’s when I realized it wasn’t going to work. But I don’t dislike Gary at all."
Van Halen will begin a 40 city North American tour on Sunday, July 5th. The band now consists of three Van Halens: Eddie on guitar/backing vocals, his brother Alex on drums, and Eddie's now 24-year-old son Wolfgang on bass guitar/backing vocals.
The Van Halens and singer David Lee Roth have separate managers and travel on separate tour buses. Eddie admits that he has no relationship with Roth offstage. “He does not want to be my friend,” Eddie told Billboard. "How can I put this: Roth’s perception of himself is different than who he is in reality. We’re not in our 20s anymore. We’re in our 60s. Act like you’re 60. I stopped coloring my hair, because I know I’m not going to be young again."
Eddie told Billboard he would love to make another Van Halen album, but Roth stands in the way of his plans: "It’s hard, because there are four people in this band, and three of us like rock’n’roll. And one of us likes dance music. And that used to kind of work, but now Dave doesn’t want to come to the table."
Van Halen praises his son Wolfgang as a much better bass player than original bassist Michael Anthony claiming that: "Every note Mike ever played, I had to show him how to play. 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 also downplays Anthony's trademark Van Halen backing vocals saying: “Mike’s voice is like a piccolo trumpet. But he’s not a singer. He just has a range from hell. Mike was just born with a very high voice. I have more soul as a singer than he does. And you know, people always talk about Mike’s voice on Van Halen songs, but that’s a blend of Mike’s voice and my voice. It’s not just him."
Michael Anthony diplomatically responded to Eddie's statements stating: "I am proud to say that my bass playing and vocals helped create our sound. I’ve always chosen to take the high road and stay out of the never-ending mudslinging, because I believe that it ultimately ends up hurting the Van Halen fans."
Former Van Halen frontman Sammy Hagar was so incensed by Eddie's attack on Michael Anthony's musical skills that Hagar posted a video to his YouTube page saying: "It's really irritating to see them go after Mikey. Mikey didn't do anything -- ever -- to Van Halen. Mikey was the most loyal guy in the band. He was the first guy there at rehearsal, the last guy to leave.... [He was] a hundred percent dedicated; never did anything to hurt those guys. And they try to hurt him again, and again, and again."
Hagar continued, "For Eddie to say he had to show [Michael] what to play and had to teach him all those songs, that is the biggest line of bullsh-- I've ever heard in my life. I was in that band for eleven years, there was never a video camera involved of Eddie showing him what to play... I don't know why they go after him like that... F--- you Eddie Van Halen for saying that. You're a liar."
Despite their personal differences Eddie Van Halen seems resigned to keep David Lee Roth as Van Halen's lead singer simply to reach a mass audience: "I think it’s now built into people’s DNA, that it just won’t be Van Halen if it’s not Roth’s voice... How do you reach the most fans possible? By giving them the band they know."
View tour dates for Van Halen's 2015 North American tour on their website here.