Van Halen will tour with David Lee Roth for the first time since the flamboyant singer quit more than 20 years ago, they announced at a news conference on Monday.
Roth, 52, spoke virtually nonstop at the event, promising that the band’s upcoming 25-date North American trek was merely the precursor to a world tour and to a new album.
“This is not like the Police,” Roth said, referring to another band that recently papered over personality differences to launch a one-off reunion tour. “The idea is that this will continue on and on and on.”
“We think we got it right this time,” Roth added. “You come and judge the performance harshly, please. I beg you, come on down and see.”
Roth’s reunion with guitarist Eddie Van Halen and his older brother, drummer Alex Van Halen, fulfills the fantasies harbored by the band’s fans ever since Roth quit in 1985 and was replaced by Sammy Hagar. But it is not a strict reunion of the classic lineup, famed for such hits as “Panama” and “Runnin’ with the Devil,” because bass player Michael Anthony has been replaced by Eddie’s 16-year-old son, Wolfgang.
Roth heaped praise on the band’s newest member, claiming Wolfgang picked the songs the band will perform, and “brings a young energy and a spirit to this that’ll knock you out of your socks.”
Asked about Anthony’s absence, Roth said, “This is not a reunion. This is a new band. ... Usually when a band comes back like us it’s rockers with walkers and this is everything but. Meet us in the future, not the past.”
The tour begins September 27 in Charlotte, North Carolina, and wraps up December 11 in the Canadian city of Calgary. Key stops include Chicago (October 16, 18), New York City (November 13) and their native Los Angeles (November 20).
Roth and Van Halen were supposed to hit the road earlier, but plans fell through when Eddie Van Halen entered rehab in March for undisclosed issues. His illness scuttled a potential reunion at the group’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction later that month.
With Hagar at the helm, Van Halen maintained its winning edge into the 1990s, with such tunes as “Right Now” and “Why Can’t This Be Love.” Roth, meanwhile, faded into relative obscurity. In recent years, he had did stints as a paramedic and a morning radio show host.
The band’s luck ran out in 1996, when Hagar quit acrimoniously, Roth rejoined to record two songs and was then replaced by a third singer, Gary Cherone. His sole album with the band, 1998’s “Van Halen III” tanked, and the band spent much of the subsequent decade in the wilderness.
Eddie Van Halen battled cancer during this time, and his marriage to actress Valerie Bertinelli ended.