Original singer David Lee Roth, 47, and his replacement Sammy Hagar, 54, told reporters they would hit the road in May for a co-headlining tour of U.S. arenas.
The tour is subtly billed as ``Song for Song: The Heavyweight Champs of Rock And Roll,'' a reference to Hagar's pugilist past and to Roth's enthusiasm for martial arts.
It unites two performers who sold a combined 70 million records worldwide with Van Halen, one of the most successful American rock bands of the last 25 years. And also one of the most chaotic: the band has been through three singers, and has not released a new album in almost four years.
The Roth/Hagar tour will allow fans to hear such Van Halen classics as ``Panama,'' ``Runnin' with the Devil'' and ``Why Can't This Be Love'' -- albeit without the fiery guitar of Van Halen's musical mastermind, Eddie Van Halen. The influential rocker has been battling cancer, but is now reportedly cancer-free.
Roth co-founded Van Halen in 1974 with the Dutch-born Van Halen brothers, Eddie and drummer Alex, and bass player Michael Anthony. Success led to ego problems, and Roth quit in 1985 for a solo career. Hagar came on board that year and maintained the band's momentum. But that run came to a messy end in 1996. Hagar claimed he was fired during a Father's Day call at home from Eddie Van Halen; the band claims Hagar quit.
At that time Hagar approached Roth about touring together, but was rebuffed. Then Roth revived the idea a few months ago, and the two met for the first time to work out creative issues.
Tuesday's news conference, at a trendy Hollywood bar, marked only their second meeting, and it underscored the huge differences between the pair.
The flashy Roth, dressed in black nylon trousers and shirt, was accompanied by three bodyguards, three masked catwomen in fluorescent unitards and a beer-drinking midget sporting an Andy Warhol wig. Hagar turned up solo in jeans and T-shirt.
Roth, the consummate salesman, charmed the crowd with witty one-liners and double entendres. Hagar brought things back to earth with sensible comments.
``Between the two of us,'' Roth declared, ``What you have is quintessential Americana. You couldn't pick a more appropriate time for that. Whether you owned any of the records or the albums between the two of us ... you've heard Sammy's or my voice tearing out of a pick-up truck in front of you in the driveway of a local Burger King for how many f-----' summers.''
In the past, Roth has referred to Hagar as ``a mediocre talent,'' ``a complete failure,'' ``a mindless little bridge-troll drone'' and ``my bitch.''
Both seemed ready to bury the hatchet, although Hagar admitted, ``It's not like Dave and I are old buddies or anything.'' Instead, they view the tour as a friendly competition, seeing who can blow the other one off the stage. They have not yet decided who will open for whom.
Hagar told Reuters afterwards that he doubted there would be much backstage chumminess between the two, and he expected Roth would soon get annoying.
``He's like an egomaniac -- in a positive sense, that he really, really thinks he's the greatest thing that ever walked on this planet.''
But separately, Roth told Reuters said he and Hagar have a lot in common ``just by virtue of a common delight in an overly packed backstage dressing room.''
Asked to predict the reaction from the Van Halen brothers, Roth told reporters said he did not know and did not care. Neither has communicated with the Van Halens in several years. Hagar hoped Anthony would come out on the tour with him.
Amid Hagar's departure in 1996, Roth stunned the music world by recording a few songs with his former bandmates and appearing with them at the MTV Video Music Awards that September. But they soon tired of each other, and the band recruited its third singer, Gary Cherone. His 1998 debut with the band, ``Van Halen III'' stiffed and Cherone later left the band.
The ``Song for Song'' roadshow will begin May 29 in Cleveland, Ohio, and dates on the open-ended tour currently run through June 29. Both hoped they could record together too.