"Happy 58th Birthday"
Michael Anthony Sobolewski (born June 20, 1954), known professionally as Michael Anthony, is an American musician who is currently the bass player in the rock group Chickenfoot. Anthony is the former bass player for the hard rock band Van Halen.
Anthony is known for his stage antics, his effects-laden live solos, his number of custom-made bass guitars including a Jack Daniel's model shaped like a whiskey bottle, and his background vocals in Van Halen. He also has a signature Yamaha bass guitar series. In total, Anthony is known to have in excess of 150 bass guitars. In addition to his musical career with Van Halen and other acts, Anthony markets a line of hot sauces and related products named Mad Anthony.
Musical career begins
While Anthony was a promising catcher in baseball, he also competed on the Dana Junior High School track team (long jump) and played in the marching band there from 1967–1969. He took an interest in guitar as a teenager, but picked up the bass instead since most of his other friends already played guitar or drums. Anthony's friend Mike Hershey gave him a Fender Mustang electric guitar that Anthony converted by removing its top two strings and playing it as a bass guitar. Eventually, his father bought him a Victoria copy of a Fender Precision Bass and a Gibson amplifier. Anthony modeled his bass playing after Jack Bruce of Cream mostly, but also admired Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones and Harvey Brooks of Electric Flag. His first band was called Poverty's Children. Other bands he played in included Black Opal, Balls, and Snake. Although Anthony is naturally left-handed, he plays right-handed.
Snake, a three-piece group featuring Anthony on lead vocals and bass guitar, was the last band Mike played in before joining Van Halen. Snake played covers of ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Foghat, along with some original songs. They played a lot of the same types of gigs as did the Van Halen brothers' band Mammoth. Snake even opened for Mammoth at a show at Pasadena High School one night. Mammoth's PA failed that night, so Anthony lent them Snake's PA.
While attending Pasadena City College, Mike pursued a degree in music. Eddie Van Halen took classes there too and they would often see each other on campus. During this time, bass player Mark Stone parted ways with Mammoth and the Van Halens decided to audition Anthony as a replacement. Anthony was impressed by their skill during subsequent jam sessions even though he had seen the brothers play before. After the session, the Van Halen brothers asked Anthony to join their band. One story claims that he said he had to think about it and consulted Snake guitarist Tony Caggiano who advised Anthony to go ahead with joining Van Halen. However, according to Michael Anthony's web site, when asked if he wanted to join Mammoth, Anthony immediately said yes. This has become the accepted version of events.
In 1974, Eddie Van Halen, Alex Van Halen, David Lee Roth and Anthony became known as Van Halen, dropping the name Mammoth because they discovered that another local band was using that moniker. They were signed to Warner Brothers in 1977 and released their self titled debut album on February 8, 1978. Anthony's high vocal harmonies became a distinctive part of the Van Halen sound. The band released a total of ten studio albums from 1978–1995, along with a live album in 1993 and a compilation CD in 1996 that featured two previously unreleased songs.
Anthony has been married to his wife Sue since 1981. Both attended Arcadia High School and they have two daughters: Taylor (born 1992) and Elisha (born 1985). Anthony and his family reside in Newport Beach, California.
(Mike Anthony/Sobolewski & Family)
(Five-bedroom Tudor-style home is in the Silent Ranch Estates gated community.)
Diminishing role with Van Halen and side projects
As early as 1996, rumors periodically surfaced that Anthony had been fired from Van Halen. Despite claims to the contrary and his continued work with the band, these persisted until his final departure.
Anthony's involvement in the 1998 album Van Halen III was less than for previous albums. Anthony performed on only three songs; Eddie Van Halen recorded the others. Anthony is credited as a songwriter for the album along with the rest of the band as is always the case for Van Halen albums. Anthony performed with the band for the 1998 tour, and was credited for messages from the band thereafter. He participated in the band's three reunion attempts with David Lee Roth from 2000 through 2001. Anthony's name was also credited in a few band newsletters during this time, and he appeared in band interviews. Sometime after this, however, Anthony disappeared from public view until the 2004 reunion.
(Van Halen Tour '98 with Singer Gary Cherone)
In interviews, Eddie and Alex Van Halen suggested they were jamming and writing/recording new material during this time period but appeared to be working without Anthony.
Anthony began periodic appearances with Sammy Hagar during his solo tours. He usually played as part of both The Waboritas and Los Tres Gusanos, two of Sammy Hagar's bands. During 2002's David Lee Roth/Sammy Hagar tour, both Michael Anthony and ex-Van Halen vocalist Gary Cherone made guest appearances at concerts, sometimes together. Anthony never performed during Roth's segment however due to Roth's refusal to collaborate with Hagar or Anthony on stage.
In 2002, Anthony, Hagar, Neal Schon, Deen Castronovo, and Joe Satriani formed the "supergroup" Planet Us and Anthony began making more frequent performances at Sammy Hagar concerts. Planet Us recorded two songs, including "Psycho Vertigo," which was intended for the original Spider-Man soundtrack but ultimately did not make the album. That and the other Planet Us song written for the band, "Peephole," were later released on the 2008 Sammy Hagar solo album Cosmic Universal Fashion.
(M. Anthony & Sammy H.)
Van Halen reunion
Initially when Eddie and Alex asked Hagar to rejoin at the end of 2003 for a 2004 tour, the plan was not to invite Anthony back. Hagar, however, refused to perform if Anthony did not rejoin, and Anthony agreed to play but on a reduced royalties contract. The contract drawn up was for the duration of the tour only, with his role within the band resting in the hands of the Van Halen brothers thereafter. Throughout this time, and during the Van Halen III period, the public was unaware of Anthony's tenuous status within the band and was led to believe that he was still a full-time member.
In 2004, Van Halen released the compilation album The Best of Both Worlds which included three new songs. Anthony did not participate in the writing or play bass on the new songs and was not credited on the album for the new material (Anthony did sing backup vocals on all three tracks).
Anthony now states in media interviews that he has not spoken to the Van Halen brothers since the 2004 tour (except to Alex Van Halen at Van Halen drum-tech Greg Emerson's funeral). He has also speculated that since the brothers were not pleased with Hagar's commercial ventures such as the Cabo Wabo product line, their similar displeasure with Anthony's hot sauce brand may have caused the rift that ultimately separated Hagar and Anthony from the band.
(Sammy's Cabo Wabo Tequila line)
(Micheal Anthony's hot sauce brand)
Departure from Van Halen and formation of Chickenfoot
Anthony spent the Summer of 2006 touring as a member of The Other Half during a segment of the Sammy Hagar and the Waboritas tour. The Other Half featured Anthony and Hagar performing classic Van Halen songs from both the Roth and Hagar periods.
Sammy Hagar & the Wabos /
The Other Half / Mad Anthony Express
On September 8, 2006, Eddie Van Halen announced that his son Wolfgang was replacing Michael Anthony as Van Halen's bass player. On February 2, 2007, it was announced that Van Halen was reuniting for a tour with original vocalist David Lee Roth. The tour began on September 27, 2007. Anthony commented that he heard about his replacement "on the Internet" and stated, "I'm a little miffed that they're calling it a Van Halen reunion. If I was dead and they needed someone to play, that's one thing, but to me this is not a reunion." At the tour press conference David Lee Roth stated "this is not a reunion, this is a reformation".
Anthony joined his former band-mate Sammy Hagar on live national TV on February 25, 2007. During a pre-race performance for the California NASCAR race on Fox television, the bassist jumped onstage and joined Sammy Hagar during a performance of "I Can't Drive 55".
Michael Anthony and Sammy Hagar were the only members, former or current, to appear at Van Halen's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 12, 2007. Eddie Van Halen was in rehab at the time, and Alex Van Halen and David Lee Roth declined to appear.
Anthony is currently the bassist and backing vocalist for the band Chickenfoot with Sammy Hagar, Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith and guitarist Joe Satriani. The band released their first studio album in Europe on June 5, 2009, followed by the North American release on June 9. The world tour officially started May 14, 2009, in Seattle, WA at El Corazon. Anthony has stated that this group intends to continue with further albums and possible tours.