Only Van Halen's second lead singer, Sammy Hagar, and ex-bass player Michael Anthony turned up for their induction. Guitarist Eddie Van Halen has just gone into rehab and original lead singer David Lee Roth stayed away in a tiff over what he would perform.Now, it's no secret that "Diamond Dave" has an ego the size of Lake Erie, so it's no surprise that he wasn't able to fit it inside of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It seems that he wanted to sing "Jump," but Velvet Revolver didn't have that one in their repertoire and didn't feel comfortable with trying to do it on short notice. They offered to do "You Really Got Me," but that wasn't good enough for Roth, so he skipped the appearance completely.
Hagar said he wished his bandmates could be there, but "it's out of our control."
"It's hard for Mike and I to be up here to do this, but you couldn't have kept me away from this with a shotgun," Hagar said.
It took less to keep Roth away. He stood up the hall, reportedly because he couldn't agree on what to sing with the band Velvet Revolver, which offered a tribute. Joel Peresman, president and CEO of the Hall of Fame, said Roth was offered a chance to sing a song of his choice with the house band. "The decision not to come was solely his, not ours."
It's kind of sad, really. You only get the chance for an honor like that once, and he just blew it off. I found it interesting to contrast this with how things are in the Baseball Hall of Fame, for instance. Most players who make it to Cooperstown aren't elected in their first year of eligibility. When they do finally make it, they feel more of a sense of comraderie with their fellow players than they did while they were playing the game. They tend to let old resentments and rivalries fade away. The musicians, by contrast, sometimes snipe at former bandmates; Debbie Harry of Blondie did this last year, I believe.
I think part of the difference is the different eligibility rules. For the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a band becomes eligible 25 years after their debut album. For the Baseball Hall of Fame, players have to be retired for five full seasons. This means that baseball players have some time away from the game to gain perspective, to recognize what was important and what wasn't. Even those who had gargantuan egos while playing tend to become a bit more humble when they are no longer major league stars.
Musicians, by contrast, don't retire. They may not be playing to packed stadiums any longer; they may be playing the county fair in Pig's Knuckle, Arkansas, but they're still out there. And so the David Lee Roths of the music world haven't had the opportunity to gain the perspective that a Cooperstown honoree has.
Not every baseball player automatically becomes wise and appreciative when elected to the Hall of Fame, but at least they behave more appropriately and show up for their induction. The only possible future exception might be Barry Bonds, who shares David Lee Roth's immense sense of self-worth. And I think even Bonds has enough respect for the game and for the Hall of Fame to show up for his induction if and when he is elected to Cooperstown.