Anthony was born on June 20, 1954 at St.
Joseph Hospital in Chicago, IL. The second of five
children, (Nancy, Michael, Steve, Robert and
Dennis), Mike was raised in Chicago, and later
moved to California where he attended Arcadia High
School in Arcadia, graduating in 1972.
Michael got an early start in music at age
seven, following in the footsteps of his father,
Walter. Both were trumpet players and Mike
developed an interest in rock, and later jazz
was a member of the marching band and on the track
team (his event was the running long jump) at Dana
Junior High School in Arcadia, CA which he
attended from 1967-1969. As a teenager, Mike
developed an interest in the guitar. However,
since many of his friends already played either
guitar or drums, he instead picked up the bass.
His first bass was actually a Fender Mustang
guitar owned by Mike Hershey, who he would later
go on to form a band with. Mike relieved the
guitar of its top two strings and used it as a
bass. Though he is left-handed, Michael plays bass
like a right-handed player does. A short time
later, Mike's father sprung for a Victoria P-bass
copy and a Gibson amp that he picked up at a local
flea market. Michael's influences include Electric
Flag's Harvey Brooks, Cream's Jack Bruce, and his
main man, Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones.
By 1966, Mike's family had moved from Chicago
to California twice, before finally settling in
Arcadia. As a youth in Arcadia, Mike was a
promising baseball player (he played catcher), but
chose not to pursue baseball after starting
highschool so he could devote all of his time to
Mike's first band was Poverty's Children and
featured himself on bass and lead vocals, his
brother Steve on drums and Mike Hershey on guitar.
Other early bands he played in included Black
Opal, Balls and Snake.
Snake was a three-piece rock outfit that
featured Michael on lead vocals and bass, Tony
Codgen on guitar and Steve Hapner on drums. Their
set lists included tunes by ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynyrd
and Foghat along with their own original tunes.
Snake played the same backyard party scene that
Mammoth played (one of the Van Halen brothers'
early bands that featured Edward on lead guitar
and vocals, Alex on drums and Mark Stone on bass)
and even opened for them one night at Pasadena
High School in Pasadena, CA. That evening,
Mammoth's PA system failed and Mike lent them
After high school, Michael attended Pasadena
City College where he was pursuing a degree in
music. Alex was attending classes at the same
time, and Mike would often see him on campus going
to and from class.
During this time, Mark Stone was kicked out of
Mammoth and Michael was suggested to Edward and
Alex as a replacement by a mutual friend. They
jammed in a small garage in Pasadena and even
though he had seen them perform many times before,
the mighty bassist was still blown away. After the
jam session, Alex asked Mike if he'd like to join
the band, to which he replied, "Uh, yeah!"
Michael planned on attending college in Santa
Barbara, CA after his stint at Pasadena City
College, but dropped out a few credits shy of his
degree at PCC to devote all of his time to Van
Halen, who had changed their name from Mammoth a
short time earlier, due to the fact that another
band was already using the Mammoth moniker. Van
Halen assaulted the Southern California club scene
over the course of the next few years and
established themselves as one of the premiere rock
and roll bands in the area. By 1978 they'd
released their first album on the Warner
Bros. label and the rest, as they say, is
In addition to his thundering bass
lines, Michael's melodic and instantly
recognizable backing vocals play a huge part in
the unique sound of Van Halen. He is responsible
for many of the ear-shattering squeals and screams
found throughout the band's albums.
connoisseur of Jack Daniel's whiskey, Mike was
prompted to build a bass in the shape of a Jack
Daniel's bottle. He built the first version along
with Kevin Dugan and Dave Jellison, and the Jack
Daniel's company offered to do the graphics for
the fnal version in exchange for Mike's entry into
their hall of fame. The guitar made its debut
appearance in the video for "Panama,"
and was delivered during filming of the video at
the Spectrum in Philadelphia, PA.
Prior to donating this infamous bass to the
Hard Rock Cafe chain, Michael had a backup built.
The graphics were done by Jim O'Connor, who also
did the graphics for Michael's Tabasco bass (seen
on 1988's Monsters of Rock tour), as well as the
striped face plates for Edward's Steinberger
bass solo has always been nothing short of
spectacular. Over the years, it's evolved from a
mind-numbing theatric excursion to a jaw-dropping
technical display. Whether launching his bass from
the risers and stomping it into the ground,
throwing in a little humor by adding the Bonanza
theme, kicking things off with Bach's Toccata and
Fugue in D Minor or the sonic crush dubbed 'Ultra
Bass,' you never know what the man is gonna throw
your way. And that's just the way he likes it. The
backup Jack Daniel's bass was even brought out of
retirement on the III Tour. Mike played it during
"Somebody Get Me A Doctor" - his solo
spot that featured him on lead vocals, which
became an instant crowd favorite.
From 1994-1996, Mike also played in a side project
band known as Los Tres Gusanos. Featuring Michael
on bass, Sammy Hagar on vocals and guitar and
David Lauser on drums, Los Tres Gusanos (English
translation: The Three Worms) often played at the
Cabo Wabo Cantina in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Michael has several other interests outside of
music. He has a passion for hot rods and race
cars. Some of the beauties in his stable include a
1932, 1933 and 1940 Ford hot rods. His pride and
joy is the 1940, nicknamed "Ragen '40."
This custom-built Boyd convertible took 17 people
nine months to assemble and features a Corvette
LT4 engine, leather interior and an over the edge
The mighty bassist also collects hot sauce and
watches. He has more than 80 watches in his
collection, including more than 60 Mickey Mouse
Michael is married to his high school
sweetheart Sue, who he began dating in 1971. They
were married in 1981 after she proposed to him at
a McDonald's drive-thru. A deeply devoted family
man, Michael spends much of his free time when not
on the road with Sue and their two daughters,
Elisha and Taylor