As readers will (hopefully) come to learn, Van Halen (all eras) is my favorite band, for a laundry list of reasons that I won't bother to list in this post. However, as a fan of the band, one has to either ignore or accept the juvenile passive-aggressive non-sense that passes from the mouths of present and former members. It is futile trying to really understand why this group of people, comprising mostly 60+ year-olds, cannot simply move-on from decades-long disagreements, arguments, grudges, and feuds. It defies reason. The latest: on Eddie Trunk's podcast this week (approx. 31:00), former Van Halen vocalist Sammy Hagar alleged that Edward and Alex Van Halen have tried to stop him from performing Van Halen songs written and recorded during the Hagar-era of the band. As an example, Hagar was scheduled to record an episode of "Live from Daryl's House" (Daryl Hall of Hall & Oates fame). Hall wanted to duet with Hagar on VH Top 40 hits "Why Can't This Be Love" and "Finish What Ya Started" . Apparently, this required some type of licensing approval, and the Van Halen Brothers denied the request and blocked any attempts to perform the songs. Show producers did not want to try and fight this issue with a recording-deadline looming, so the songs went untouched during the recording. ** SIGH **
Assuming this version of events and facts as true, it is bad enough that the brothers are that petulant to try and block Hagar's Daryl Hall performance, but the fact that Hagar publicized this example knowing that the Van Halens could not legitimately block him (or any other performer(s)) from performing these songs live is similarly silly and unnecessary.
Most issues addressed in the Copyright Act (17 U.S.C. et seq.) are default positions. In other words, absent a contract addressing a particular issue, the parties resort to the Copyright Act for determining unassigned or non-transferred rights. For example, in most cases, co-writers of a song (including music and lyrics) each own an equal share of the song, unless there is a contract to the contrary.
Accordingly, unless there is a contract between the Van Halens and Hagar that has changed the songwriting shares, or otherwise restricts/prohibits performances in some way, Hagar as a co-writer has the rights accorded by the Copyright Act, owning an equal share of the credits with the Van Halens and former bassist Michael Anthony. One of those rights includes the right to publicly perform such compositions subject to the reporting required of the host-venue to the appropriate performing rights organizations (PRO, such as ASCAP or BMI). Similarly, co-writers also have the right to record/distribute sound recordings subject to accounting to the other co-writers.
Of course, the public is hearing only one-side (Hagar's) of these issues at the moment. Perhaps the Van Halens have legitimate reasons for pursuing the courses they have pursued thus far, given the acrimonious and distrustful state of affairs between the brothers and Hagar (and Anthony).
It is odd (if not notable) that Hagar did not make specific mention of the brothers trying to stop the release of Hagar's "The Circle" live recording entitled "At Your Service" containing seven songs co-written by Hagar and the Van Halens, but did mention the block of two songs from "Live at Daryl's House". Does Eddie Van Halen have a burr in his backside over Daryl Hall's public comments that Van Halen's keyboard parts in "Jump" were inspired by the piano riff in Hall & Oates mega-hit "Kiss On My List"? As noted in the current Billboard Magazine cover article, Eddie Van Halen does not appear to hate anyone, but his grudges run long and deep.
Or, on the other hand, did the Van Halens bully the last-minute production of Daryl Hall's television show based on opportunism while avoiding "The Circle" live disc because it knew the futility of doing so? More than likely, because the acrimony and overall distrust between Hagar and the Van Halens, this is little more than power trips and egos at play. But, there may also be some underlying accounting issues that have been bubbling that the public is not aware of.
Hagar and the Van Halens squabbling over music is hardly surprising. The strong egos of those involved make future disagreement(s) inevitable. Just another sad episode in the Van Halen melodrama.
1. Despite the high-drama, Van Halen still has a fairly strong and devoted following, as exemplified by the robust fan-site VH Links. 2. "Why Can't This Be Love" was the lead-single from Hagar's debut with Van Halen, the 5x platinum 5150 released in April 1986. "Why Can't This Be Love" peaked at #3 on Billboard's Hot 100 Singles Chart in May 1986; 5150 debuted at #13 on Billboard's Top 200 Album Chart, peaked at #1 for a three-week run, and spent more than one-year on the chart. Additional information may be found at 5150 Info. 3. "Finish What Ya Started" was the third single from Van Halen's May 1988 release OU812. The song was a departure for Van Halen, blending rock, country, and an exotic drum sound and beat, sounding as much like a Rolling Stones song as a Van Halen tune. "Finish What Ya Started" peaked at #13 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart; OU812 debuted at #1 on Billboard's Top 200 Album Chart and spent four-consecutive weeks in the top spot. 4. ASCAP and/or BMI distribute royalties to songwriters and publishers based on frequency of play from reports by terrestrial and satellite radio, Internet streaming services, concert venues, and the like. 5. 5 Things About Jump 6. Billboard - EVH on Addiction, Roth, Touring