Why Eddie Van Halen Didn’t Appreciate Michael Anthony

The Van Halen family is probably best known for their musical talent that has lasted for generations. The Van Halen brothers, Alex and Eddie, were born to a musician father, and later, they decided to embark on their own musical path. In the ’60s, the two brothers started playing together with Eddie on drums and Alex on guitar. The duo became involved with different bands at a very young age, but only Van Halen would introduce them to the rock world.

In its long and highly successful career, the band has experienced several line-up changes and hiatuses. One of the most resounding ones was undoubtedly the departure of Michael Anthony. He played bass for the band for more than 30 years and sang the backing vocals, which were considered an integral part of the band’s sound. While Anthony’s departure from VH had already surprised fans, his replacement was even more shocking and received backlash.

The controversial name was Eddie’s son, Wolfgang, and in 2006, he officially joined Van Halen to replace Anthony. Some were so disturbed by the idea that they harshly criticized the then-teenager bassist for replacing him and questioned his talents. Eddie’s stance towards these controversies became evident in an interview he gave in 2015.

Did Eddie Van Halen Like Michael Anthony’s Performance?

Eddie Van Halen was always direct and blunt about his decision to replace longtime member Michael Anthony, and he often stressed that his son deserved it as he was a much better musician than Anthony. However, he used a much harsher tone in an interview he participated in a few years before his passing, as he targeted Michael Anthony’s musical talents.

Commenting on his former bandmate in an interview with Billboard in 2015, Van Halen said that he taught Anthony how to play the guitar in each song. According to him, Anthony would come to him before each show with a video camera, and he would show him how to play the parts.

After criticizing the bassist’s back vocals, which are considered integral to the band’s signature sound, Eddie stated that Michael Anthony is not a singer but only has a high voice. The guitarist, who even said that he has more soul than Anthony as a singer, stated that people always talk about Michael’s voice when it comes to Van Halen’s sound, but they actually hear the combination of their voices.

Eddie Van Halen’s words on Michael Anthony follow:

“Every note Mike ever played, I had to show him how to play. Before we’d go on tour, he’d come over with a video camera and I’d have to show him how to play all the parts.

Mike’s voice is like a piccolo trumpet. But he’s not a singer. He just has a range from hell. Mike was just born with a very high voice. I have more soul as a singer than he does. And you know, people always talk about Mike’s voice on Van Halen songs, but that’s a blend of Mike’s voice and my voice. It’s not just him.”

Although Eddie was adamant that Wolfgang deserved the spot, the young bassist has been more modest regarding this issue. He revealed in 2021 that Van Halen fans were right about their harsh reaction to his replacement for Anthony. Eddie Van Halen also seems to have softened a bit about Michael Anthony in his final years, as he even considered reuniting with him for one last tour before disbanding Van Halen.