Could you imagine telling the members of Van Halen, who had already sold millions of records between 1978 and 1985, that they needed to change their name?
According to bassist Michael Anthony, that’s what then label Warner Brothers wanted the band to do after David Lee Roth quit Van Halen.
Anthony told Steve Gorman Rocks! that Van Halen’s camp “panicked” when Roth left, with Warner Brothers wanting one of their hottest and best-selling acts to change their name. The label was worried that the Roth-fronted Van Halen “was such a strong identity.”
The bassist said “I remember Eddie and Alex, we were at Warner Brothers, and they were yelling, going, ‘Hey, hey, this is our last name. This is our careers. And we’re Van Halen.'”
The label finally chilled and after replacing David Lee Roth with Sammy Hagar, Van Halen’s 1986 album, 5150, would sell two million copies in only two months.