Van Halen’s first lead singer was the charismatic David Lee Roth. With him at the helm the band released singles like “Runnin’ with the Devil,” “Dance the Night Away,” and “You Really Got Me.” He was also a part of the band’s seminal release, 1984. One of the best-selling albums of the 1980s, 1984 combined elements of rock, hard rock, heavy metal, and pop. The album contained the classic songs “Jump,” “Panama,” and “Hot for Teacher.”
Roth left shortly after the end of the Van Halen tour to promote 1984. He was replaced by Sammy Hagar. With Hagar fronting the group, Van Halen released several successful albums like 5150, OU812, and For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. Some of the band’s best known singles released in the late 1980s and early 1990s are “Why Can’t This Be Love,” “Dreams,” and “When It’s Love.” During the Hagar period, the band sold millions of albums and thousands of Van Halen tickets.
The band employed a third singer, Gary Cherone, in the late 1990s. Cherone, former frontman of the band Extreme, didn’t come anywhere close to achieving the same type of success as his predecessors and was only with the band for one album. However, there’s one thing Cherone did that Roth and Hagar were unable to do and that was leave the band amicably.
Both Roth and Hagar departed Van Halen acrimoniously and for reasons that differ depending on which side you ask. While each situation is little different, Roth and Hagar basically left Van Halen due to control issues and problems arising from Eddie’s substance abuse problems.
The first decade of the 21st century came and went without a new Van Halen album. Instead, it was ten years of the band, Roth, and Hagar, talking about a reunion tour. Roth did reunite with the band briefly in 1996 but Van Halen’s guest appearance on the MTV Music Awards was more of a publicity stunt than anything else. Van Halen and Hagar reunited in the middle of the decade to record some new songs for a compilation. A series of Van Halen concerts followed but the tour was marred by Eddie’s drinking.
Van Halen and David Lee Roth finally reunited in early 2012 for a tour and a new album, A Different Kind of Truth. The band announced their plans the day after Christmas 2011. The first single from that album was “Tattoo.” The 2012 Van Halen tour featured Roth, Eddie Van Halen, Alex Van Halen (drums), and Wolfgang Van Halen (bass). Wolfgang is Eddie’s son (Alex’s uncle) and he replaced long time bassist Michael Anthony. Incidentally, Anthony and Hagar were the only ones present during Van Halen’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony even though, at the time, they weren’t part of the band.