Michael Anthony (musician)

Michael Anthony (musician)
This article is about the musician. For other uses, see Michael Anthony (disambiguation)).
Michael Anthony

Michael Anthony (farthest left)
Background information
Also known as Michael Anthony Sobolewski
Born June 20, 1954 (1954-06-20) (age 57)
Chicago, Illinois
Genres Hard rock, heavy metal
Instruments Bass, vocals, keyboards
Years active 1972–present
Labels Warner Bros., Redline Entertainment
Associated acts Van Halen, Chickenfoot, Sammy Hagar, Los Tres Gusanos, The Other Half, Mad Anthony Xpress
Notable instruments
Yamaha BB3000MA
Custom Jack Daniel's bass

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 supergroup Chickenfoot. Previously, Anthony played bass in the hard rock band Van Halen, of which he was a longtime member.

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.



(1967–1974) 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 main interest in life was music once he left Arcadia High School. 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.

(1974–1996) Van Halen

In 1974, Eddie Van Halen, Alex Van Halen along with David Lee Roth and Michael 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 bass lines and 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. Despite the Van Halen brothers falling out with both their vocalists frequently (David Lee Roth in 1985, 1996, 2000 and 2001 and Sammy Hagar in both 1996 and 2004), Anthony maintained positive relationships with all of the musicians.

Anthony has been married to his wife Sue since 1981. Both attended Arcadia High School[1] and they have two daughters: Taylor (born 1992) and Elisha (born 1985). Anthony now lives in Glendora, California, and frequently can be seen driving his prized hot rods.

(1996–2003) 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.

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.

(2003–2005) 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).[2]

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.[3]

(2006–present) 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.

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."[4]

Anthony joined his former bandmate Sammy Hagar on live national TV on February 25, 2007. During a pre-race performance for the California 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.[5]

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.[citation needed]


With Van Halen

With Chickenfoot

Commercial ventures

Anthony maintains a personal Web site titled "Mad Anthony Cafe" where he markets and sells a number of signature products including hot sauce, BBQ sauce, and hot mustard. His line of commercial foods is the result of a collaboration with a San Diego, California restaurant noted for its hot sauces. His hot sauce brand, "Mad Anthony", has been noted on local news segments and on the Food Network for being "high-end" due to the quality of its ingredients and manufacturing process.[6] The site also provides information on Anthony's two signature Yamaha bass guitars. Chickenfoot bandmate Sammy Hagar carries the bassist's hot sauces at his Sammy's Beach Bar & Grills locations.[7]

Anthony has wanted to expand the number of outlets his sauces reach, and in order to do that he has had to make some changes to the packaging. His hot sauce includes the phrase: “So hot you’ll need two assholes.” In a 2010 interview, Anthony said, "I thought was kind of witty. But unfortunately places like Trader Joe’s [and bigger outlets] take a look at the bottle and go, 'No, I don’t think we’re going to go for that.' So we’re in the process of revamping that. It’s actually only on the one bottle of my hot sauce. On my barbecue sauce or my mustard we didn’t use any of that kind of language. I’m not going to do the full-on blowout thing, but it would be cool to expand a little bit more because I’ve got people that work with companies like Trader Joe’s, which is a big specialty store, and they’re interested in doing something."[7]


  1. ^ ComputerJohn (1954-06-20). "Van Halen (Michael Anthony) Arcadia High School ROCK Legends". Arcadiaapaches.com. http://www.arcadiaapaches.com/memories/rock_history/vanhalen_story.htm. Retrieved 2011-07-01. 
  2. ^ The Best of Both Worlds, http://www.allmusic.com/album/r698029, retrieved 2007-12-10 
  3. ^ Yuan, Jada (2007-04-02), Hot for tequila: Cabo Wabo killed., 40, New York Magazine, pp. 15(1) 
  4. ^ "Van Halen Tour Nearly Sold Out", Rolling Stone (1035): 18(0), 2007-09-20, ISSN 0035-791X 
  5. ^ Gardner, Elysa (2007-03-13), "Rock Hall riffs with newest members", USA Today, ISSN 0734-7456 
  6. ^ El Cajon's Hottest Couple (Television). San Diego, California: KFMB-TV. 2006. 
  7. ^ a b Reesman, Bryan (2 April 2010). "Mad Anthony’s Hot Band and Hot Sauce: Part One". Attention Deficit Delirium. http://www.bryanreesman.com/blog/2010/04/02/mad-anthonys-hot-band-and-hot-sauce-part-one/. Retrieved 4 August 2010. 


External links

Preceded by
Mark Stone
Bassist for Van Halen
1974 – 2002,
2003 – 2005
Succeeded by
Wolfgang Van Halen

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