In late February of 1996, the original four members of KISS officially reunited at the 38th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. It was to be the biggest story in music that year. But there could have been one just as big. Maybe bigger: The reunion of Van Halen’s original four.
As Van Halen fans know, the reunion of David Lee Roth, Eddie Van Halen, Alex Van Halen, and Michael Anthony was very short-lived. There was an awkward appearance at the MTV Video Music Awards on September 4th of ’96 in New York. An even more awkward press conference followed. Eddie announced that he needed a hip replacement before considering any reunion tour . According to Eddie, an angered David responded by telling Eddie: “Tonight’s about me, not your f—-n’ hip!” The bridge that had been slowly rebuilding (like baby steps) between David and Eddie was falling to pieces. David recoded two new songs with the band (“Me Wise Magic” and “Can’t Get This Stuff No More”) for the Van Halen Best Of – Volume I compilation released in late October of ’96. The following month, the band officially named Gary Cherone as the new lead singer.
But what if things turned out differently? What if the original four members of Van Halen had gone out on the road? Would they have surpassed KISS’s staggering attendance numbers that year? The KISS reunion tour lasted for 192 shows and earned $43.6 million, making it the top-drawing concert act of 1996. They sold out all 40,000 tickets for Detroit’s Tigers Stadium in 47 minutes. Would Van Halen have sold out stadiums as well? Would they have sold out multiple nights at stadiums? It’s a “what if” scenario the podcast Epic Footnote Productions pondered in a recent episode titled “What If Van Halen Didn’t Implode at the 96 VMAs?” Listen below to see what hosts Matt Gamba and Zach Shaw had to say, and let us know what you think in the comments!