The rock ‘n’ roll rumor mill is buzzing again about a possible Van Halen reunion. Now it's been announced that they on the ballot for the 2007 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, thing just got interesting. So here's my rundown as to who is likely to get into the Hall of Fame, and why this is part of Van Halen's larger plan to take over the world again in 2007. Read on...
Regarding the Hall of Fame, the other artists on the ballot are Iggy and the Stooges, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, R.E.M., Patti Smith, Dave Clark Five, Chic, Joe Tex and the Ronettes. Five artists will be chosen for the final list of inductees, to be announced in January, with a ceremony held March 12 at New York's Waldorf Astoria Hotel.. To be eligible for induction, the 2007 class had to release their first single no later than 1981. Van Halen's first single came out in 1978, fyi.
Now, it goes without saying that the big record companies have a lot of pull when it comes to who gets in.
Generally (dead or alive) a new album, greatest hits collection, box-set or reunion tour tends be in the works if you get in, so the label can make some dough off it. Clearly, Dave Clark Five, Chic, Joe Tex and The Ronettes are easy acts to slap a greatest hits or rarities collection around, plus Grandmaster Flash, R.E.M., and Patti Smith are all still around (and it kinda hippens up the whole affair to have a few somewhat edgy acts on the bill) so any of those acts are likely to make the cut. If anything R.E.M might not get it this year because they aren't going anywhere and are still a "young" act compared to the rest.
Iggy Pop’s group The Stooges have been eligible, and on the ballot, for years, but were/are waaaaay to extreme for industry suit and ties to wanna acknowledge, least of all actually have to witness when they play the event. I mean, here’s a group known for cutting themselves with knives and broken bottles, rolling in broken glass, brandishing swastikas, and throwing peanut butter at the crowd. Not your typical mainstream, awarded band. However, here’s where the politics settle in. The Stooges are currently in the studio with Steve Albini cutting their first album since 1973s legendary Raw Power. It’s coming out on Virgin and a world tour is sure to follow. Major label, new product, they are now officially a shoe-in. Plus, Iggy has gained a lot of commercial credibility with his songs appearing in every TV commercial and movie soundtrack in existence. But, boy oh boy, those record company geeks have no idea what they’re in for when the Stooges play their event! It’s gonna be a friggin’ bloodbath!
Now we get to Van Halen, and here’s where it gets really interesting. Many have wondered that if the band made it into the Hall of Fame, which singer would rep them onstage? David Lee Roth, the original frontman who defined their sound and sang all the early classics, or Sammy Hagar, the later era singer who took the band to all new commercial and chart success and sang many smash hits as well? My money is on Dave, and I’ll one up the bet by saying that the band and its longtime label Warner Bros. will use this to kick off the long awaited reunion tour and tie-in some sort of box-set or DVD (it can’t be a greatest hits as they’ve already released two hits collections in the last decade).
First off, many credible sources say that Eddie and Dave are back in discussions for a reunion tour, which would tie in quite nicely with the Hall of Fame for everybody involved. Sadly, it won’t be a full-fledged reunion as bassist Michael Anthony is on the outs with Ed, and word has it son Wolfgang will be joining borther Alex as the rhythm section behind the rock train. Would Anthony play the RnR Hall of Fame at least? Who knows, but my money is on Eddie keeping his kid by his side throughout all this as a way to stomach Dave, who really gets under his skin. But I think that Eddie can handle “loose cannon” Dave (as he described him on a recent Howard Stern interview) as long as he’s surrounded by family and has Alex and Wolfie by his side.
Secondly, Warner Bros. has had a VH boxset in the works for years. I know this for a fact as friend of mine has worked on it. Every year they approach Eddie about signing off on it and every year he passes. Well, now that a possible world tour is in the balance, and they are eligible for the Hall of Fame, it seems like a good time to have product in the stores. I guarantee Warner Bros is thinking the same thing.
Now, haven’t we heard all this before? Didn’t they try this around the time of the MTV Awards debacle back in ’97 when there was a greatest hits album out with two new Dave songs?!? Yes, but this time it’s different and here's why: 1. They weren’t eligible for the RnR Hall of Fame when they last attempted to make this happen, so that corporate tie-in, publicity machine and dose of credibility wasn’t available at the time. 2. Back then, playing with Sammy or getting a new singer (anyone remember Gary Cherone?) if Dave didn’t work out was still an option, and now it is not. 3. Eddie's son is said to love the idea of playing the old songs with his dad and Dave. And THAT is the key to the whole puzzle, folks. Apparently, Eddie’s teenage son has discovered his dad’s old albums and seems to agree with the rest of us that VAN HALEN ROCKED HARDER WITH DAVE AND THOSE EARLY ALBUMS ARE F**KING INCREDIBLE!!! If Wolfgang wants this all to happen, it will. Guaranteed. I know a lot of musicians parents in their 50s who get to a point where they don’t really care much about all the old squabbles and drama, and just wanna have fun with their kids, do what their kids think is cool, and use their career to pass the torch to their sons and daughters.
So then it really comes down to, can the band still rock with Dave? Let me assure you, YES. Back in 2000 the band secretly got back together with Roth at Eddie’s 5150 studios. No awards shows, no press release, no hoopla. They started writing and recording a reunion studio album and got as far as five songs. This has been confirmed in interviews by Dave, Eddie and Michael. But unlike the two songs they did in ’97 (“Me Wise Magic” and “Can’t Get This Stuff No More”), where Eddie wrote all the tunes ahead of time and Dave just waltzed on in to sing and pen some lyrics over pre-recorded music, this time they went in as a team and started writing new material they all contributed to.
Here's the kicker: I had the opportunity to hear these unreleased songs. Don’t ask me how, I can’t say. And, no, I don’t have a copy. But let me assure you, they were AWESOME!!! Everything you wanna hear from the boys and more. Eddie was walin’ and hammerin’ with that old tone. Dave was hootin’ and hollarin’ like a black cat in heat. The bass was thumpin’ and the drums like cannons. The songs was breathtaking. I dunno know if those songs will ever see the light of day, but the point is that when those guys got back in the studio together and the creative process start a-flowin’, the results were magic...and pure f**kin’ rock ‘n’ roll glory.
So, for the record, I am predicting that Eddie Van Halen and Diamond David Lee Roth ere indeed going to reunite in 2007, that they will perform at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame to kick if off, that a boxset is likely...and that all of this will rock and make me very, very happy.
Now put that in your pipe and smoke it!
P.S. – Wherever that first tour date is, we all better be there, ‘cause there’s no guaranteeing that they make it to date #2!