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“They were trying to kick us off the tour”: Michael Anthony recalls Van Halen’s rocky ride supporting Journey in 1978

When Van Halen supported Journey in ’78, the rising metal superstars gave the arena rockers a run for their money.

[L-R] Eddie Van Halen and Steve Perry

Credit: David Tan/Shinko Music/Getty Images [L], Ed Perlstein/Redferns/Getty Images [R]

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Back in their heyday, nobody could compete with Van Halen. Wherever the rising metal icons went, they would leave a wave of astonished fans in their wake. Their performances captured something bold and exhilarating; audiences could already sense that Van Halen were destined for greatness.

While Van Halen basked in the glorious praise, not everyone was impressed. Certain musicians would respond with envy – and Michael Anthony has revealed that Journey were one such band.

In a recent interview with the Eddie Trunk Podcast, the bassist reflects on Van Halen’ 1978 tour supporting Journey. He regards the tour as a stand-out of his career, recalling that “we were just freaking fired up so much that first tour in ‘78 with Dave [Lee Roth].”

However, Van Halen were perhaps a bit too “fired up.” Every night, they were absolutely electric – and Journey didn’t like it.

The arena rockers were intimidated by Van Halen. Journey felt like they were having to compete with their opening support act every night. Needless to say, this lead to Journey seriously considering kicking Van Halen off the tour. “They were trying to kick us off the tour every week on that one,” Anthony explains.

One thing kept Van Halen on the bill: the enticing allure of dollar signs. “We were selling tickets!” Anthony explains. “The record company kept going, ‘No, you can’t kick them off the tour!”

The Van Halen effect meant that fans were guaranteed to flood into each venue, night after night. In the eyes of their record company and managers, it didn’t matter if the ticket sales were for Journey or Van Halen. Money was money, plain and simple.

Former Journey frontman Steve Perry has also reflected on the 1978 tour in the past. Speaking to Ultimate Classic Rock in 2020, the singer explained that the group “woke [Journey] the fuck up.”

“Now, you’ve got to remember that Eddie [Van Halen] and the group were on their first tour with Journey and we brought them out to open at the 3,000 seaters we were doing at that time,” Perry said. “They cleaned our clock plenty of times and woke us the fuck up pretty quick. They were so focused and so on fire that they were just relentless. That was the most musical relentlessness that I’d ever seen.”

Guitarist Neal Schon has also spoken to Ultimate Classic Rock regarding the tour, noting that “it was a competitive guitar bill.” Thankfully, second support Montrose took some of the heat off – because, as Schon puts it, “I was glad I wasn’t coming after Van Halen at that point, that’s all I can tell you.”

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