Van Halen Not Responsible for Michael Anthony’s Album Art Removal, Wolfgang Says
For Van Halen fans who were around in 2007, the memory of the band's reunion with singer David Lee Roth can bring happy thoughts. But there was one part of the initial announcement that might still bother listeners — former bassist Michael Anthony's unceremonious (and short-lived) removal from album artwork on the group's official website.
Indeed, that August, as Van Halen and Roth made simultaneous but separate announcements of their joint comeback on the heels of a North American tour, fans on the Internet noticed something strange about images of the band's album sleeves on the Van Halen website. Namely, Anthony's photo on the cover of 1978's Van Halen debut was gone.
It was supplanted with a shot of Wolfgang Van Halen, then just 16. Wolfgang, Eddie Van Halen's son, had replaced Anthony as Van Halen's bassist the year prior, making his live debut with the act in 2007.
Not only that, but on the same website, the 1980 group photo including Anthony on the cover of Women and Children First was eliminated entirely.
The retconned images lasted about a day or two, if that. Following significant outcry from listeners, the album sleeves on the site were soon restored to their original, unaltered versions.
Now, almost 14 years later, fans are learning that the album art snafu wasn't the band's fault in the first place, according to Wolfgang. The musician currently behind Mammoth WVH recently explained that the image shake-up was solely the work of an overzealous web designer.
"That was some dumbass on the website that did that dumb photoshop shit," Wolfgang clarified in a Jan. 5 response to a question on Twitter. "Not a band decision. We were never cool with that. It was ridiculous. Which is why when we found out about it, it was undone immediately."
In the intervening span, however, fans could only wonder why the decision was made in the first place. When it occurred, Anthony told Rolling Stone about his understandable displeasure.
"[It] kind of saddened me a bit," the classic Van Halen bassist admitted at the time, "when I was pointed to that, to see that my pictures were removed off of the first album. With Women and Children First, they took the picture off completely. I couldn't figure out what they were trying to do except for brainwash the fans into thinking I was never in the band. That bummed me out quite a bit. I'm proud of all my history with Van Halen, and maybe they feel otherwise."
Van Halen Original 1978 Album Cover
Van Halen 2007 Website Album Cover (Emphasis Added)