Happy Birthday, Michael Anthony! Join us in wishing “Mad Anthony” aka “Mikey” aka “Cannon Mouth” a KICK ASS birthday. Bottoms Up, Michael!
Michael Anthony Sobolewski was born on June 20th, 1954 and was partly raised in Chicago. The family moved to California twice in Anthony’s early years, settling in 1966 in Arcadia, California. Anthony attended Dana Junior High School, in Arcadia, California, from 1967 to 1969 and was a member of the school’s marching band. He ran track in junior high and also showed promise in baseball, as a catcher, but by the time he started high school he had ceased doing athletics to concentrate on music. Anthony graduated from Arcadia High in 1972.
Anthony took an interest in guitar as a teenager, but picked up the bass instead later stating that it was because all his friends played drums or guitar and he wanted to do something different. His friend Mike Hershey gave him a Fender Mustang electric guitar that Anthony converted by removing the two highest 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 has said in interviews he mostly modelled his bass playing after Jack Bruce of Cream, but was also a big fan of Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones and Harvey Brooks of Electric Flag. Although Anthony is naturally left-handed, he plays right-handed.
Anthony’s first band was called Poverty’s Children but went on to become a member of other area bands including Black Opal, Balls, and Snake. Snake played several of the same types of gigs as another area band called Mammoth. Mammoth featured Eddie and Alex Van Halen, who lived in nearby Pasadena. Snake even once opened for Mammoth at a show at Pasadena High School. Mammoth’s PA failed that night, so Anthony lent them Snake’s PA.
It was while attending Pasadena City College where he majored in music that Anthony met Eddie Van Halen, who also took classes there. During this time, bass player Mark Stone parted ways with Mammoth and the Van Halens auditioned Anthony as a replacement. After the session, the Van Halen brothers asked Anthony to join their band. He immediately accepted and would go on to be the band’s permanent bassist as they made the transition from Mammoth to Van Halen, featuring David Lee Roth on lead vocals. He was a member of Van Halen from 1974 to 2006 and performed on the band’s first 11 albums. Even though he was in Van Halen, Anthony took some time in the 80s to work on a project with his brother, Robert Lee Sobolewski. In 1988, they made a demo for their band together, Asylum Sweet.
Following his 2006 departure, Anthony has collaborated with fellow former Van Halen bandmate Sammy Hagar for the supergroups Chickenfoot and Sammy Hagar and the Circle.
Anthony met his wife Sue Hendry when the both attended Arcadia High School. They married in 1981 and have two daughters: Elisha (born 1985) and Taylor (born 1992). Anthony and his family reside in Newport Beach, California.
In addition to his music career, he markets a line of hot sauces named Mad Anthony and related products. Anthony was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Van Halen in 2007.
Enjoy some great videos featuring Michael through the years below!