The Soap Opera that is Van Halen

It has been just over 20 years since Sammy Hagar parted ways with Van Halen (6/16/1996). In the late 1970' and 1980's, I was a huge fan of both Van Halen and Sammy Hagar before Sammy joined Van Halen, and given the fact that I was enjoying David Lee Roth's solo career with Steve Vai, it seemed like a win win to me (remember songs like California Girls remake, Just a Gigolo, Yankee Rose, the remake of Tobacco Road, and Just Like Paradise?).

I admit I did not follow the drama very closely. Band members each give different accounts for their break-up after the 1984 album tour. Creative differences, perhaps, but either way you look at it, the Van Halen brothers own the band. They can do what they want. The brothers say Sammy quit in 1996, but Sammy says he was fired. Again, creative differences with the brothers holding a trump card.

Some of you may remember the short reunion that Van Halen had with Roth in 1996, and two new songs for release on the greatest hits album was the result. But this reunion was short-lived due to ongoing conflicts between Eddie and Roth, and Van Halen decided to hire Gary Cherone from the band Extreme for one album. The album did not do well, and Warner Brothers forced the band to send Cherone packing. So a few more years went by before they reunited with Sammy Hagar for a very successful tour in 2004. After this tour, Sammy, claiming that Eddie's drinking was taking its toll, decided to return to his solo career.

In 2006, once again Roth was collaborating with the band, and they went on a short tour that ended in 2008. Finally, in 2012, with Roth on vocals, Van Halen released the return-to-their-roots album A Different Kind of Truth. I even bought tickets to the show for Wichita, KS, only to find out they canceled all shows after New Orleans in June of 2012. I figured the drama was in full swing again, and that Roth had acted nuts or Eddie had drank all the liquor in the hotel fridge (and that the night probably ended in fist-to-cuffs). Still not really sure what happened there.

Since the shows were canceled, the band still pops up from time to time, and Roth recently eluded on an episode of The Roth Show to the strong possibility that another tour/album would be in the works at some point... I recently saw them performing on Jimmy Kimmel Live (video below), with Roth's nose all bandaged up from popping himself in the face during rehearsal (or was it Eddie that popped him, not sure exactly). I have to be honest. Roth's Chesire grin in these performances makes me think he is completely giddy over performing live again with Van Halen, or Jim Laffigan is telling him jokes in a small speaker in his ear. I have to give him credit, however, given that he is in his early 60's. yet, comparing the Jimmy Kimmel live show below to a concert from 1983, I am just not so sure Roth has it in him anymore.