I honestly thought that this would be one of the biggest heavyweight showdowns in rock n’ roll history however it now looks like the battle could be over before it has even started. Could Chickenfoot vs Van Halen be more like Tyson vs Spinks?
In the red corner you have one of rock music’s greatest contenders, the mighty Van Halen in it’s largely original line-up, complete with possibly the biggest mouth in rock, David Lee Roth. The band are supposedly putting the final touches on their first record since 1998 (the album that we shall not speak of) and have legions of die hard fans eagerly awaiting the new material.
In the blue corner we have Chickenfoot, featuring the outspoken frontman Sammy Hagar, ex Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony, guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani and Chad Smith from the Red Chilli Peppers on drumming duties. Chickenfoot is by its very nature a true super group and like a phoenix from the ashes of Van Halen, Hagar has risen once again to prove he has the midas touch, not just in business but in the music world too.
He has put something very special together in Chickenfoot and the band, like all great groups is more than just the sum of it’s parts. With Joe Satriani, the band has a truly world class guitar player that is capable of pulling off anything Eddie Van Halen could dream up, a player that is also a hugely talented composer. Michael Antony is probably Van Halen’s greatest loss as not only was he an integral part of the Van Halen sound but has an incredible knack for knowing just how much to play. Combined with the hilarious and equally talented Chad Smith on drums the band have a chemistry that shines through everything they do. The band love playing together and it shows.
With the Van Halen camp however it looks like it’s trouble in paradise… again (Alex and Eddie have already had two short lived reunions with Roth in 1996 and 2006) . It seems like there is nothing but bad news circulating about the group. Rumors started back in August when the Australian Soundwave Revolution Festival, which was due to take place in Brisbane, Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth was cancelled. The official line was that the organisers have decided to cancel the festival after they failed to book a co-headliner. However some thought that Van Halen had deliberately pulled the plug.
In September a report in The Hollywood Reporter (via Melodic Rock) quoted a source saying that the band had switched record labels (from long time label Warner records, to Sony’s Columbia Records) ahead of the new album being released.
The latest rumour (again from Melodic Rock) reports that the dates the band were supposed to be playing around Europe next summer (including Download Festival in the UK in June) have all being cancelled before they were even announced.
Now don’t get me wrong, this is not an anti Van Halen rant, I really hope the band comes out punching and delivers a kick ass album of epic proportions but somehow I think that the change of record label and string of cancelled dates means that all is not well with Messrs Van Halen and Roth.
All the while Hagar et al are busy enjoying the limelight with the critical and commercial success of both their self titled 2009 debut and the cheekily titled Van Halen III follow up. Right now it looks like the true heavy weight champion of the world is the mighty Chickenfoot.