Former Van Halen bassistAnthony talks Sammy Hagar and fast cars

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July 28, 2014 at 12:41 am Quote #37454


Former Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony talks Sammy Hagar and fast cars
By Thom Jennings Night & Day

Night & Day — Claudio Zampolli is the person that can be credited with making Tuesday’s show at Artpark possible. Billed as “A Journey Through the History of Rock, “ the show features what some rock fans may call the better half of Van Halen, or at least the better half of what has been dubbed as “Van Hagar,” the temporary marriage of two rock giants of the 1980s that resulted in some amazing music.

Sammy Hagar and former Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony will be performing with Led Zeppelin’s most famous offspring, Jason Bonham, and guitarist Vic Johnson on Tuesday for the eighth installment of the 2014 series.

Eddie Van Halen’s and Sammy Hagar’s Ferrari mechanic, the aforementioned Claudio Zampolli, that told Eddie “Why Don’t You Call Sammy,” when Van Halen was looking to replace David Lee Roth. Not long afterward Hagar and Anthony’s musical paths were inextricably linked.

During a recent phone interview, Anthony recalled the first time he met Hagar.

“We had shared some bills together but the first time was when he walked in the studio to join (Van Halen). I think he was planning to take some time off from his ‘V.O.A’ album because he had cut all of his hair off and was not at all what I had expected,” Anthony said. “As far as how quick we hit it off, when I met him I owned one or maybe two cars and not long after I owned 11 of them, much to my wife’s distress (laughs),all Sammy had to do was introduce me to Claudio and I bought my first Ferrari!”

Hagar eventually left Van Halen, only to be replaced by Extreme’s Gary Cherone, who performed at Buffalo’s Canalside series on Thursday. Cherone and Hagar have since shared the stage together, as have Anthony and Hagar

“It wasn’t until after (Sammy Hagar) left Van Halen that we connected on a personal level. We have a lot in common beyond the music, we love the beach and we love cars, and when you have common interests it reflects in the music you play together,” Anthony said.

In addition to Sammy Hagar, Michael Anthony has shared the stage with some of rock music’s greatest drummers during his stints in Van Halen (Alex Van Halen) and Chickenfoot (Chad Smith and Kenny Aronoff). On this tour, he shares the stage with Jason Bonham.

“I’ve jammed with Jason on a few occasions, but never in a band situation like this. It’s amazing how much his style reminds you of his dad. Playing with a drummer like Jason inspires you to try different things; it has been a lot of fun,” Anthony noted.

The band’s current set features a cross-section of Sammy Hagar’s stints in Montrose, Van Halen and hits from his solo career. The addition of Jason Bonham in the lineup means fans can expect a few Led Zeppelin classics in the mix as well, featuring guitarist Vic Johnson, who has the task of playing songs made famous by Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen and the late Ronnie Montrose.

“People will be really surprised by Vic, they have seen with Sammy and his band the Waboritas. People will be blown away by what he is dong on this set, he has a guitar solo in the set that people are really going to enjoy.”

Before we concluded our interview, I made the bold statement to Michael Anthony that Sammy Hagar was rock’s best frontman, based on my personal observation. I wonder if he agreed.

“Lead singers are a different breed; you have got to have the charisma to be able to pull it off. To compare him with David Lee Roth, back in the day Dave would have this thing he did onstage and stick to it, whereas with Sammy, you never know what is going to come out of his mouth. Sammy has no qualms with changing up the setlist either, he always keeps it interesting.”

Anthony, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and purveyor of quality hot sauce also was happy to note that fans only “get to hear (Sammy Hagar era Van Halen songs) at our show because Eddie and Alex aren’t playing it.“


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