Stephanie Schultz of The Press-Enterprise reports:

When Michael Anthony, longtime bassist and back-up vocalist for rock icons Van Halen left the band in the late ’90s, he faced some uncertainties except one: he would continue to play music.

“I couldn’t just sit on my hands and do nothing because my last name isn’t Van Halen,” Anthony said in a recent telephone interview. “I didn’t want to be the bass player everyone forgot about.”

Anthony played with various bands and eventually reunited with former Van Halen frontman Sammy Hagar and even original lead singer David Lee Roth for a short-lived Van Halen tour. [Dana’s note: Hagar and Roth never toured on the same bill for Van Halen. The writer, most likely, accidentally combined the 2004 Van Tour along with the 2002 Roth/Hagar tour.]

“It started out going well and then it didn’t go too well,” he said of the 2004 tour. “I remember the first show I played, Sammy said, ‘Yeah, I think Dave is going to come out and join us,’ and Dave never came out of his dressing room and he became a recluse and I never really saw him.”

To add to the complications, Eddie Van Halen was dealing with health issues.

“Eddie was in bad shape – we did 80 shows and had to pull the plug because it was just too much work,” he said. “And I hated having to wake up the day of the show and think, ‘Which Eddie Van Halen are we going to get today? The Jekyll or the Hyde?’”

But Hagar, a Fontana native, circled back and asked Anthony to start coming out to shows to perform with the Red Rocker’s band The Waboritas, which then led to Chickenfoot, a supergroup featuring Hagar, Anthony, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ drummer Chad Smith and guitarist Joe Satriani. Hagar also formed The Circle — another formidable group made up of Hagar, Anthony, drummer Jason Bonham, son of Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, and guitarist Vic Johnson.

Anthony said it’s all about having fun these days, including good times off stage like when the two get together on Hagar’s television show Rock & Roll Road Trip With Sammy Hagar on AXS TV.

“What’s great about Sammy and I is once we reconnected we had already attained a level of success and it allowed us the luxury to just have fun,” Anthony said. “There’s no egos involved, we are all really good friends and although it’s nice to make money, it’s not money driven.”

The Circle will perform at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa in Rancho Mirage on Thursday, May 17th, and Pala Casino Spa & Resort on Saturday, May 19th. The latter performance is in conjunction with the opening of the resort’s new pool complex.

Anthony said the band enjoys performing at casinos as much as arenas and stadiums.

“The casinos are always packed and a little more intimate than the bigger arena shows and we have a lot of fun playing those and we plan to bring all the craziness that we do,” he said with a laugh. “And I gotta tell you, they pay really well.”

The members of The Circle bring a massive catalog of songs to choose from making the setlists a cornucopia of classic hits ranging from Hagar’s solo career, Montrose, Van Halen, Led Zeppelin and selections from Chickenfoot and The Circle.

“One of my favorite songs to play live is Right Now,” Anthony said of the 1992 Van Halen hit. “It always evokes a lot of emotion from the crowd and is a lot of fun to play. Poundcake is great fun, too.”


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  • DR Is Live on

    EVH is a genius and quite possibly the greatest guitarist in the history of amplified guitar. And geniuses sometimes have their issues and their demons. Eddie has definitely had his. But that doesn’t change his greatness.

    BTW Doug R., the best Van Hagar song (and there aren’t many) is undisputed-ly Poundcake. So while I love you dearly like the Older Bro you are…how you have that at #10 is a mystery to me.

    • Doug R. on

      Bro, I love “Poundcake,” the vocals, the music, that was Van Hagar at their best! I just happen to love those other 9 songs in front of PC on my list just “A Little Bit More.” 😉

  • James K. on

    Michael is quite possibly the nicest, most down to earth rock star ever. EVH can try to diminish Michael’s contribution to Van Halen all he wants but it’ll do nothing because true Van Halen fans know how great and important Michael was to that band. He’s a great bass player, even though his playing was overshadowed. But, in his defense, how can his playing not be overshadowed playing in a band with not just one but two charismatic frontmen, a crazy drummer who plays a kit the size of a house and a guitsrist who basically reinvented the instrument? He was as much a part of their live stage show as those guys were. Anyone who saw VH when Michael was there will agree. His backing vocals is THE Van Halen backing vocal sound that’s so identifiable. I’m glad Michael is happy and having fun with his life and music because he deserves it. Great guy indeed!

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