Meet a California-based ’80s hard rock band struggling to keep the peace long enough to play one gig. For them, this should be a time to reflect proudly on artistic contributions and commercial successes — revolutionizing the heavy metal sound, selling 56 million albums in the U.S., and making it into the Guinness Book of World Records with the most No. 1 hits on the Billboard Mainstream Rock List ever.
Instead, these middle-aged musicians are trapped in a decades-long drama of toxic attitudes and scuttled reunions — with innocent fans trapped in the fray. After canceling a much-anticipated 40-date tour in February, these guys can’t even stay civil for their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
If nostalgia for camaraderie lost, love of music, and wads and wads of serious concert ticket lucre can’t get this band back together, there’s only one man left to turn to. Take an exclusive peek inside an event that almost certainly never happened, as Van Halen moves in for an intensive week-long stay in the Dr. Phil House!
DAY 1: ORIENTATION
Dr. Phil McGraw: Now boys, I’ve brought you here to get real. Not with me, but with each other. First let me tell you that I know a thing or two about the music business. My close personal friends, Brooks and Dunn, have clued me into the stresses you’re likely facing. The women, the roadies, what have you. So let’s start with Eddie. Why do you think you boys have such a hard time of it?
Eddie Van Halen: Man, my brother, Alex, and me …
Alex Van Halen: Hey.
Eddie: We can’t find anyone with enough integrity to just respect the music, man.
Dr. Phil:OK, I hear ya. You don’t think people like Dave or Michael Anthony here get it. Not even your old pal Sammy Hagar. Now, maybe I’m about as sharp as a cotton swab, but it seems like it’s always someone else’s fault. It’s never Eddie’s fault. Is that what you want me to believe?
Eddie: Man, I’m just saying.
Dr. Phil: Dave, what are you smiling about?
David Lee Roth: Dude, I’m just so psyched to be here! I can’t believe we’re all together. We can totally make this work! Woo!
Dr. Phil: Now Dave … sit back down please. Now Dave, I don’t think you care if you’re playing with the band or being played by the band. Eddie’s saying one thing, and you’re hearing another. Good Lord, son, if your brain was a buffet, we’d all be starving.
Dr. Phil: Now Eddie, is there anything you’d like to say to Dave?
Eddie: Man, you’re just all ego. You act like you ARE Van Halen.
David: Showmanship! Dude, I’m just givin’ the people what they want. Whoa-eeee!
Dr. Phil: Now, see, this is interesting. Ultimately it’s all about giving the fans what they want. But if what the fans want isn’t the same thing that the band wants, you’ve got to compromise.
David: Compromising! Weeooweeoo!
Dr. Phil: Son, I asked you to sit down. When they were passing out brains, you were in line for more spandex pants, weren’t ya’?
DAY 2: FACING THE TRUTH
Dr. Phil: Now Michael Anthony didn’t really say much yesterday, and I’d really like to know what he’s holding back. Just ’cause a horse won’t talk, doesn’t mean he ain’t got something to say.
Michael Anthony: Why is Wolfgang here?
Dr. Phil: Now I just assumed it was because Eddie couldn’t find a sitter. Eddie, why is your son Wolfgang here?
Eddie: Because Michael Anthony left the band! I had to replace him with somebody, man. There’s no one more qualified than Wolfgang.
Michael: No one more qualified whose last name is Van Halen, you mean! And I didn’t leave the band. I was touring with Sammy!
Eddie: Van Halen is a full-time job!
Michael: The last time Van Halen did anything was two years ago … when we toured with Sammy!
Dr. Phil: Michael Anthony’s looking for a soft place to fall, and Eddie, you’re being a brick wall. Wolfgang?
Wolfgang Van Halen: deedlelee-deedleleee-deedlelee
Michael: See, that’s air guitar, not air bass. He’s 16-[expletive]-years old!
Dr. Phil: Dave, I’m not askin’ again…
DAY 3: A TIME TO REFLECT
Dr. Phil: Today I’d like to address the hostility between Dave and Eddie.
David: Dude, what hostility? Eddie’s my bro! Yeah!
Dr. Phil: Now Dave, you called Eddie your “bro.” Is he acting like a “bro?” You can butter a puppy, but that don’t make it a biscuit. What I’d like you fellas to do is put yourselves in the other cowboy’s boots. I want you to role-play for me.
Eddie [as Dave]: I’m an idiot who can’t shut up. Eddie offers me a chance to be with the band, and I blab about it to all the magazines. I don’t care about the integrity of the music.
Dr. Phil: Eddie, you’re makin’ Dave feel about as welcome as a skunk at a perfume maker’s picnic. I’ve seen fat boys let go of doughnuts easier than you’ll give up that grudge. You need to dial it down. Now Dave, you be Eddie.
David [as Eddie]: I’m totally jealous, Dude. Dave is heeeawwwttt! He’s a badass, mountain climbin’, martial arts master, female-magnet with the mad EMT skills! WazzaWEEEEOW!!!
Eddie: This is [expletive] stupid, man.
Dr. Phil: Well Edward, you’re not giving me much to work with here. You’re offering me a glass of lemonade, but there ain’t no sugar. And I’m startin’ to suspect that’s not lemon juice either.
DAY 4: ADJUSTING TO CHANGE
Dr. Phil: I’ve asked someone to join us today. Someone you all know. Someone who has managed to make it through a multi-city reunion tour with you Van Halen boys, as well as Dave here for the 2002 “Sans-Halen” tour.
Michael: Sammy, welcome to the madhouse!
Sammy Hagar: High Five!
Sammy: Eh, yeah. Ed. Al. Wolfie.
Sammy: Dave. I told you about that. Don’t touch me.
David: Yeeow! Sorry, dude! No touching! That’s cool!
Dr. Phil: Now Sammy, do you have something you’d like to say to these boys?
Sammy: You guys just need to drop your differences and do it for the fans. That’s what it’s all about. You’ve led ’em on four times, and aborted four times. Just do it! Think of the payday! You did it with me, why can’t you do it with Dave?
David: Van Hagar!
Eddie: Shut it, Sammy. You don’t care about the fans unless they’re buying your Cabo Wabo crap.
Michael Anthony: Don’t forget Mad Anthony’s Hot Sauce!
Eddie: Yep. That’s it. Come on, Alex. Wolfgang, grab your PSP. We’re out of here.
DAY 5: THE FINAL STRETCH
Dr. Phil: Now, as you boys know, this process suffered a major setback yesterday when the Van Halens decided to leave the Dr. Phil House. Just for now, let’s put the 40-date tour on the back burner with the grits and cornbread. At this time, I have grave concerns that you boys just aren’t gonna get it together in time to perform at your Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inauguration.
Michael: Yeah, that’s too bad. Guess it’s back on the road with Sammy!
Dr. Phil: Boys, I don’t think you’re getting it. What are we trying to accomplish here?
David: No, dude. It’s cool! I’m a song and dance man. I’ve played with the Boston Pops. I’ll play with whoever shows up! Weelololoooo! I’m on top of my game! When I hit the stage, the gig begins! Bring it on! Yowleedooloo! Wassaow!!!
Dr. Phil: That is it! Son, you are more annoying than a sandy diaper on a chafed bottom. Eddie was right. You’re an idiot. You’d need a window in your drawers just to see where you’re going. I’ve interviewed meth addicts that make more sense than you. Listening to you is like … I don’t even have a platitude for that! No wonder they threw you off the radio, boy. If I had to listen to you everyday I’d shoot myself. I’d literally shoot myself!
David: Ya’ know, for the longest time I thought you were Alex Van Halen and that other guy was Michael Anthony.
In lieu of Van Halen, Velvet Revolver will perform at the 22nd Annual Rock and Roll Hall Fame Induction Ceremony on March 12 in New York City.
Ree Hines and Helen A.S. Popkin are sadder than a one-legged kid on clown-kickin’ day ‘bout this whole Van Halen mess and wish Eddie Van Halen the best of luck in his recovery.