In a new interview with Loudwire, Wolfgang Van Halen spoke about what it was like to reconnect with former VAN HALEN bassist Michael Anthony at MAMMOTH WVH‘s December 8 concert in Las Vegas, Nevada. The MAMMOTH WVH leader, who replaced Anthony in VAN HALEN, said: “He’s family. It was long overdue. I think we had planned that at least since I’ve been touring and it just worked out and it was very wonderful to see him. [I] love that my mom [Valerie Bertinelli] was there [and] my uncle Patrick who is also part of the MAMMOTH team; he goes way back with them. It’s really nice to have that little reunion.”
A few hours after MAMMOTH WVH‘s concert in Las Vegas, Wolfgang took to his social media to share a couple of backstage photos of him with Michael at the House Of Blues, and he included the following message: “Ran into an old friend at the @mammothwvh show in Vegas tonight. (Love ya, Mikey)”
Michael shared a video of the MAMMOTH WVH concert and a backstage photo of him and Wolfgang, and he wrote: “Went to see MAMMOTH WVH last night here in Vegas, and they threw it down! Love ya Wolf, so great to see ya! (Proud of you brother!!)” Asked by a fan how long it had been since he and Wolfgang last met, Michael replied: “First time in 20 years.”
In an interview with New York’s Q104.3 radio station conducted prior to the House Of Blues show, Wolfgang said he was looking forward to meeting Michael. “I’m gonna be seeing Mike in Vegas, so I’m stoked to give him a hug,” he said. He also said that he was “stoked” that Anthony, Sammy Hagar, Joe Satriani and Jason Bonham were planning a 2024 tour focusing largely on VAN HALEN music. “Yeah, that’s super cool, man,” he said.
Back in November 2020, Wolfgang was asked by Steve Baltin of Forbes how he dealt with all the negativity he was subjected to online after it was announced he was stepping in for Anthony on VAN HALEN‘s reunion tour with David Lee Roth. He responded: “I don’t think it was a personal thing. I think it was their love for Michael Anthony, it had nothing to do with me as a person. It’s just that they would have much rather seen him without realizing the back story of how [the reunion] probably wouldn’t have happened without me because dad [VAN HALEN guitarist Eddie Van Halen] felt incredibly uninspired and, especially when he was sober, he had a monumental anxiety issue and having me there made him more comfortable and creative. Now that people are starting to learn the truth behind everything so many people understand and actually apologized directly to me on Twitter, like, ‘Hey, man, I hated you before, but I realize that I actually never really knew you. I just hated you for a reason outside of your control and I just wanted to apologize. I feel terrible.’ That’s a really big thing for people to do, especially on the Internet. So I’ve been really touched by how kind people have been that may have been rude to me in the past. It all rolled off my back anyways. But it takes a big person to admit when they’re wrong. And these people are certainly doing that in droves and I can’t believe it.”
After Baltin pointed out that Eddie Van Halen made it clear in a 2009 interview that the only way that tour was happening was because he was so happy to tour with his son, Wolfgang said: “Yeah, it was incredibly important to him and I don’t think people really took his words to heart, I don’t think they really believed it. They wanted to look to the negative. In this day and age it’s always about the cynical reaction and everything, so the true meaning behind what he was saying never really resonated.”
More than three years ago, Wolfgang revealed that his father had contemplated a “kitchen-sink” VAN HALEN tour that would have included Anthony, as well as vocal turns from both Sammy Hagar and David Lee Roth. There was even talk about bringing back Gary Cherone, who sang with the band on one poorly received album, 1998’s “Van Halen III”.
“It was my idea,” Wolfgang told the Houston, Texas radio station 94.5 The Buzz. “Over the years, I’d been talking to Dad and introducing the idea of, like, ‘Hey, hear me out. But this would be really cool. What if we had Mike come back and I could open?’ And over the next year or so, he started to warm up to the idea, and he was into it. And then we started joking around with the idea of the kitchen-sink tour — everything but the kitchen sink — and just get everybody. Get Hagar, get Cherone, get Roth, Anthony, and we’d all get up on stage and just have a party. And we even spoke to Irving Azoff, the band’s manager, and he got really excited about it, and hit up Anthony. I think that’s how the rumors got out. But by that time, Dad’s health was in such a decline that we were kind of waiting until we could over this hump to [where] we can get back to it, and we never got to that point, unfortunately.”
According to Wolfgang, the original plan was for him to personally contact Michael and ask him to come back to VAN HALEN. “Unfortunately, Irving hit [Michael] up before I had a chance to,” he said. “The plan was for me to [reach out to him].” Wolfgang went on to say that he was also the one who called Roth in 2007 to get him to return to VAN HALEN for a reunion tour.
In early 2019, a rumor surfaced that the classic VAN HALEN lineup would reunite that summer for a run of stadium shows. This would have been the first time that Michael, Eddie, David and Alex Van Halen performed together since 1984.
The rumors originally started with Roth, who hinted to Vulture that VAN HALEN would be playing stadiums with Anthony back in the lineup.
VAN HALEN and Anthony had not been on good terms for more than a decade, with Anthony not invited to join the reunion with Roth that began in 2007. The subsequent two tours and studio album, “A Different Kind Of Truth”, featured Wolfgang on bass.
Anthony took a pay cut and signed away all of his rights to the band name and logo in order to participate in VAN HALEN‘s 2004 tour, which featured Hagar.
Eddie died in October 2020 at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, California. The iconic VAN HALEN axeman died from complications due to cancer, his son confirmed.