Van Halen’s Gary Cherone Mistake: Rock’s Epic Fails
For Van Halen, the third time was most certainly not the charm. They'd already found sweeping success with two other frontmen before introducing former Extreme singer Gary Cherone, who took over the mic in 1998.
As the following video shows, Van Halen didn't come close to replicating the success they'd enjoyed with out-sized co-founding singer David Lee Roth and his more conventional successor Sammy Hagar. Instead, Cherone would only last through one lightly regarded album and a quickly forgotten tour.
Blame, in part, probably goes to overlong songs like "Without You," "Year to the Day" and "Ballot or the Bullet," which simply weren't as tuneful as the music from Van Halen's earlier incarnations. (Eddie Van Halen didn't help matters with "How Many Say I," a piano-driven vocal debut that may be his band's worst-ever song.)
For his part, Cherone said he wished he'd toured with Van Halen before going into the studio, since it would have given fans a chance to get to know him through interpretations of older songs. Instead, they jumped right into sessions for an album that would eventually be titled Van Halen III. Cherone has also questioned the choice of producer Mike Post.
Coupled it all with the fact that Cherone was nowhere near as well known as Hagar had been when he took over more than a decade earlier, and one of rock's epic fail was all but certain. Van Halen III became the band's first album not to sell at least a million copies. They tried pulling out some rare Roth-era songs on the subsequent tour dates, but the die was already cast.
By 1999, Cherone was gone – and, as the above video shows, Van Halen eventually returned with a very familiar face.