With a frontman who possesses perhaps the most colorful and extensive vocabulary in rock music, it is not easy to pick the five best quotes from more than four decades of Van Halen’s history.
Although original (and current) lead singer David Lee Roth could handily dominate a list of the most quotable rock stars of all time, he’s not the only outspoken member — past or present — of the legendary rock band. His sometimes rocky relationship with guitarist Eddie Van Halen has been providing much fodder for journalists over the last 44 years.
5. “I’m very excited to be making music with my son, my brother, my new brother,” Eddie Van Halen said, while gesturing to Roth. “It’s the sh*t.”
Despite the sometimes contentious relationship between the singer and the guitarist, they were full of affection for one another during the band’s August 13, 2007, press conference to announce Roth’s return to Van Halen for the first time since his departure in 1985. Amid the hugs and mutual praise, Eddie Van Halen referred to Roth as being a member of his family.
4. “Just like any band, we were having a career difference here. We’re having a musical difference, and we’re gonna go our own ways,” Roth said. “And we cried and we hugged, then we split. And two weeks later, I’m reading in Rolling Stone what an [a-hole] I am. And how poor little Eddie was forced to spend the last 12 years of his life living a lie.”
That was a far cry from what they were saying about each other in the media in 1986. A year after Roth’s split from Van Halen, he and his former bandmates were taking potshots at one another via the media. At a news conference during the tour for his solo album Eat ‘Em and Smile, Roth let loose on Eddie. He fumed over how he thought he’d left the band on amicable terms, only to find himself a frequent target of public barbs from the guitarist and others in the group.
3. “Ted still makes more money than I do on those first two records,” Roth noted.
“Oh yeah, he makes more than all of us,” Eddie responded.
“But he’s still Ted,” Alex deadpanned.
By 2012, Roth’s reunion with Eddie and his brother, drummer Alex Van Halen, along with Eddie’s son Wolfgang on bass (replacing original band member Michael Anthony) was still going strong. They went on another wildly successful tour to support the band’s first studio album with Roth (A Different Kind of Truth) since 1984’s 10x platinum (RIAA certified) album 1984. The singer and the Van Halen brothers seemed to have a warm relationship by this stage in their careers. At the time of the album release, the band put online black and white videos of the three original members fondly sharing memories about their early years together and asking questions about each others’ formative years. One story they told was about their original record deal, the meager royalties they received, and how their first producer, Ted Templeman, made out better financially than they did.
The three bandmates went on to describe how little money they made in the early years and when they realized that their first accountant was stealing from them. They also reminisced about their first world tour — especially why they were kicked out of Scotland and ordered to never return.
2. “F*ck you, Eddie Van Halen for saying that about Mikey. You’re a liar,” Sammy Hagar yelled into the camera.
Just before Van Halen’s 2015 tour began, Eddie gave an interview to Billboard magazine for a cover story in which he lamented not having a real friendship with Roth. But it was the guitarist’s contempt for former bass player Michael Anthony that drew the most attention. “Every note Mike ever played, I had to show him how to play,” Van Halen claims. “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.” Not only were many fans angered by the perceived attack on Anthony, but Hagar (the band’s lead singer from 1985-96, 2004) took to the internet to post a profane video defense of his friend.
1. “The high points of my life have been spent on stage, working with you,” Roth said (on October 4), with his hand on Eddie’s shoulder. “You too, Al,” as he turned toward the drummer.
Although dogged by rumors of discord throughout the 2015 tour, the band members seemed to get along well on stage. For the last two dates of the tour (October 3 and 4, at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles) during an extended instrumental section of “Dance The Night Away,” Roth spoke affectionately about his relationship with Eddie. The singer and guitarist then put their arms around each other’s shoulders, kissed each other on the cheek, and Eddie playfully tousled Roth’s hair before resuming the song, for what many believe was Van Halen’s final show ever.