Could you imagine if Bono decided to leave U2 in pursuit of a solo career, and then the band carried on with the singer from Snow Patrol or something? It’s impossible to consider, and yet something exactly like that happened on this day in 1985. Van Halen were arguably the biggest band in the world at the time, and they were coming off their fantastically successful album 1984 (which contained the huge crossover hits “Jump,” “Panama” and “Hot For Teacher”) and were selling out stadiums around the globe. But frontman David Lee Roth was not getting along with guitarist Eddie Van Halen, and the solo bug had already bitten him (he had already released his cover of “California Girls” to considerable acclaim). So on April 1, 1985, Roth quit Van Halen and moved on.
The two entities — Roth and the rest of Van Halen — went in significantly different directions. Van Halen recruited Sammy Hagar to replace Roth, and the band ultimately became bigger than they ever were, dropping huge albums like 1986’s 5150 and 1991’s For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. Roth had less success as a solo artist, though he remained popular on the live circuit. (He eventually walked away from music entirely, taking a job as an EMT near the turn of the century.) Of course, Roth eventually came back into the Van Halen fold (twice), and a new album from the band — their first with Roth in 27 years — is expected soon.
It’s apparently an exit-centric day, as this is also my final day as the editor of the MTV Newsroom blog. It’s been a great run, and like Roth, I’d like to think I’m exiting on a high note (though I have much warmer feelings to my co-workers than Roth had for the Van Halen brothers). In honor of both of our exits, crank up “Unchained.”