Rock ‘n’ roll cameraman Tony Wannamaker recently recounted his experience filming Van Halen’s concerts at Toronto’s Molson Ampitheatre in August of 1995.
Wannamaker, who is currently working on a book titled “Confessions of a Rock ‘n’ Roll Cameraman”, shared the story for his podcast to support the upcoming book.
“We were doing a program, a series of shows called the Big Ticket Simulcast and that’s when we kind of liaised way back in the day with [Toronto rock station] Q107,” said Wannamaker. “They did the radio component; we did the video.”
Wannamaker filmed Van Halen for concerts held on August 18th and 19th of ’95 while the band was supporting their latest album Balance. The plan was for it to be turned into a pay-per-view special and subsequent home video release, but the latter never happened as tensions within the band at the time would lead to the eventual departure of Sammy Hagar.
In the video above, you’ll hear Wannamaker share many stories, including the approach he and his team of 11 cameramen had filming the show.
“I was covering Michael Anthony with shots to show Michael Anthony foreground, Sammy Hagar a little bit back, relationships between the crowd in the pit and Michael Anthony, and then reverse shots. And I could also sneak over and get some really great drum shots of [Alex].”
Wannamaker said his experience with the bandmembers was nothing but positive. He even got a bear hug from Michael Anthony.
“I really did bond with Michael Anthony,” he said. “There was a real energy there…a real connection. At the end of the show, I had to shake his hand with my left hand. I had a camera on my right. He left for a second, turns right around, came back and, it was really a great moment, he picks me right up in the air, big bear Michael Anthony, gives me a big bear hug. I’m up in the air floating like a little toy doll and he puts me down and I thought, ‘Man, if that doesn’t epitomize a really great bond, a professional relationship, I don’t know what does. It was fantastic.
“Sammy came over said ‘hello’, told a couple of jokes, always a funny guy,” he added. “Eddie shook my hand ‘goodbye’ and Alex Van Halen – always just a nod, [waved his hand smiling], continued.”
Watch Van Halen In Toronto 8/19/95