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Van Halen: Diver Down

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Eddie Van Halen
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A reunited and slightly altered lineup of Van Halen is on tour right now, but the event could collapse at any time. Singer David Lee Roth has had a rocky relationship with Eddie Van Halen, who has been battling various addictions and health problems. It's a shaky reunion for a group that has been in a state of turmoil for decades now. Some fans are excited to see the guys back together, but Weekend America's John Moe is hoping for total collapse.

Notes from Senior Reporter John Moe

This story is about my efforts to shut down the Van Halen reunion tour. It's all about Eddie Van Halen. That's the heart of this story. Specifically, what Eddie has been through the years. My earliest memories of the band Van Halen are of the bombastic singer David Lee Roth, who seemed like the most unbearable person in the world to be around and of Eddie Van Halen, who seemed like such an incredibly easy-going guy that he would have no problem putting up with Dave. I remember the pictures of Eddie from the early days and even videos up through the 1984 album where Eddie, shaggy haired and comfortably dressed, was usually smiling. It's like he was acknowledging that, yes, being in Van Halen is just as awesome as you think it is, and now I will go marry Valerie Bertinelli just to prove that fact. That's how I choose to remember the band: just like in the video for "Panama."

But a lot has happened since then. They've been through so many singers that I began to realize that it couldn't have been the singers that were the problem, but rather the guitarist running the show. Somewhere along the way, Eddie cut his hair and lost his smile. I guess those things happen with age. But beyond that, his fun "party hearty" approach to intoxicants became something that ravaged his health and left him looking like 20 miles of bad road. And in press coverage, it was easy to realize that happy-go-lucky Eddie had turned into this mean, sour wretch.

Then he went to rehab and apparently reconciled with Roth and got this reunion together. But all is not right. Watch the press conference video from the Rolling Stone link on this page. Roth is showboating but Eddie brusquely interrupts and makes everything uncomfortable. Long-time bassist Michael Anthony was unceremoniously dumped and replaced by 16-year-old Wolfgang Van Halen, Eddie's son. That's just wrong.

Look, we all get older. And many things go along with that: sourness, health problems, nepotism, engaging in professional projects more out of financial advantage than heartfelt commitment. I understand that. But I don't want that to extend to every part of life. I want to remember shaggy, smiley Eddie Van Halen. And I want to remember the shaggy, smiley Eddie Van Halen within me.

  • Music Bridge:
    Artist: Van Halen
    CD: 1984 (Warner Bros)


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