Van Halen

Eddie and Alex Van Halen became interested in music as young boys, they grew up taking classical piano lessons. But, their interests in musical instruments changed and Eddie started playing drums, while Alex learned to play guitar! Eventually they would end up switching instruments!

The brothers formed their first band in 1971 called the “Trojan Rubber Company”! By, 1972 they’d reformed into the “Mammoth” band and added Tim McNulty on bass guitar.

For several years they did small gigs in and near their home town of Pasadena, California. David Lee Roth was added on vocals,and Michael Anthony on the bass. Their band, “Mammoth” became very popular with the local crowd.

They discovered that another band was using the name “Mammoth”, so in 1974 they decided on “Van Halen”. They became even more popular by self promoting, before gigs they’d hand out fliers at all the local high schools.
The band got a break in 1976 while doing a gig at one of the local clubs. Kiss bassist, Gene Simmons saw them perform and liked the band so much that he flew them to New York and financed a demo recording for them!

With equipment borrowed from Simmons’s band Kiss, Van Halen recorded “House of Pain” and “Runnin’ With the Devil”. Eddie didn’t like the fact that he couldn’t use his own equipment. And, disliked the demo because the guitar parts had been dubbed.

Reportedly, Simmons wanted the band to change their name to “Daddy Longlegs” and even had the cover predesigned with a daddy longlegs wearing a top hat!
The band didn’t want to change their name and Simmons finally decided to stay out of any further involvement with them!

In 1977, while performing at the Starwood in Hollywood, Van Halen caught the attention of Ted Templeman and Mo Ostin of Warner Bros. Records. Within a week the band signed a recording contract!

Their debut album “Van Halen” hit #12 on the Billboard music charts. And, is hailed as one of the most commercially successful debuts in rock music! The album contained classics such as “Eruption” and “Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love”. Within six months the album was certified platinum and has sold over 10 million copies!

Over the next year “Van Halen” toured opening for Black Sabbath and established a reputation for their performances. Roth’s crazy antics and Eddie’s technical talents with a guitar won them many fans.

“Van Halen II” was released in 1979 and included the band’s first hit single, “Dance The Night Away”! Touring and releasing more albums during the next few years, Van Halen became one of the world’s most successful band’s.

The band’s love of partying and their hard rocking music attracted many teenage fans. But, Roth’s flamboyant style had began to cause a lot of tension between band members, especially Eddie!

In 1983, Van Halen received one million dollars to do a 90 minute concert at the US Festival! They’d already made their mark with fans, but this payment recorded their mark in the Guinness Book of World Records! Van Halen had received the highest payment ever paid to a band for one performance!

On January 9, 1984, Van Halen’s release of “1984” would bring them their first #1 pop hit with the single “Jump”. The album contained other hit singles like “Hot For Teacher” and “Panama”. Many of the songs were featured in MTV videos.

Even with the albums huge success, personal differences and tension kept building. During the tour stress over the control of the image and sound of the band peaked and on April 1, 1985, Roth left the band!

Sammy Hagar was brought in to replace Roth and soon after Van Halen released their first #1 album on the charts. “5150” contained a wide range of music styles including “Good Enough”, “Why Can’t This Be Love?” and “Get Up”. “5150” was introduced with a redesigned logo on the cover to represent the band’s new beginning.

Even with Roth gone, the band still continued to have personal problems. During the tour for “5150”, called the “1986 Tour”, Hagar fought to minimize the number of songs played that were before his time with the band.

But, even with the stress the band’s success after the addition of Hagar continued. All four albums released while Hagar was with the band hit #1 on the Billboard charts and 17 singles hit the top 12 of the rock tracks chart.

The band was also nominated for two Grammy Awards, one of which they won in 1991. They received the Grammy for the Best Hard Rock Performance with Vocal for their album, “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge”. And, Van Halen’s huge success continued through the mid 90’s.

Along with the continuing success, the tension and stress also continued. And, on Father’s Day in 1996, Hagar left the band. Van Halen claimed Hagar quit, Hagar claimed he was fired.

Hagar was replaced with Mitch Malloy and the band started recording demos. During a phone call between Eddie and Roth, the two got along very well and Eddie invited Roth to his home studio. Soon after, Roth went back into the studio and recorded two songs for their “Greatest Hits” album.

In September of that year, the original Van Halen members would accept an offer to appear at the 1996 MTV Video Music Awards to present an award. This marked their first public appearance together in more than eleven years!

Malloy knew that no one could replace Roth in the heart of the fans and he quit the band. Roth thought the appearance meant he was back in the band and made a public announcement. But, he didn’t know they were still auditioning for a singer!

After a few weeks, it was discovered that the appearance at the MTV Awards and the two album songs recorded with Roth didn’t mean that he was back in the band. Roth told the fans and the media that he was sorry and the whole thing was a publicity stunt done by Van Halen and their manager!

“Van Halen III” was released after the band had recruited Gary Cherone. The album featured less rock and more serious thinking songs. It did reach gold status, but sales were poor when compared to the other albums.

Before their next album was finished, Cherone left the band. The departure was on friendly terms and blamed on musical differences. Once again, the fans and the media were speculating Roth’s return!

From late 1999 through early 2004, Van Halen didn’t release any music and the band didn’t make any official statements to the media! The brothers continued to write and even worked with Roth writing again in 2000, but the results were the same and they soon departed ways again!

In October of 2001, Eddie Van Halen and his wife, Valerie Bertinelli ended a 21 year marriage. Warner Bros dropped the band and Eddie was underwent cancer treatments.

Finally in January of 2003, the Van Halen News Desk website announced that Hagar was once again working with the Van Halens! But, it wasn’t until March of 2004, that Hagar and Van Halen announced they would reunite for a “Best Of” album release and a concert tour to follow.

July 2004 brought the release of the band’s second “Greatest Hits” album, a double album set with three new songs with Hagar. The album reached platinum status in the U.S. the month after it was released and the tour grossed almost $55 million!

The medias coverage of the first part of the tour was positive, but the later part of the tour brought stories of Eddie playing badly and being drunk a lot. At the final show of the tour in Tucson, Eddie smashed his guitar during the show and left the stage!

Eddie’s abuse of alcohol had been a problem with all of the members during the tour. After the tour the band quickly left the limelight once again after Hagar stated, “he was done with Van Halen” and left the band!

Without a singer the usual Roth reunion rumors started again. In January 2006, Roth announced that he was talking to the Van Halen’s and that a reunion was inevitable.

The Van Halen brothers continued to do small gigs, they joined Kenny Chesney at The Home Depot Center and later that year they performed at the House of Petals in Los Angeles. On July 27, 2006, Eddie Van Halen announced that the band would be releasing some new music on the sound track for Sacred Sin, a porn film!

During a interview on the Howard Stern show in September of 2006, Eddie announced that he was willing to have a reunion with Roth and also revealed that he was working on a solo album.

Eddie’s son Wolfgang, joined the band playing guitar beside his father, confirming that Anthony was no longer with the band. Soon after, it was released that the band was getting ready for a Summer 2007 tour.

With conflicting statements, on December 11, 2006, Eddie publicly announced that Roth had been invited to rejoin the band. On December 28, Roth announced that he hadn’t been in contact with Eddie in two years.

January 2007, brought news that Van Halen would be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The inductees included of course the Van Halen brothers, along with Anthony, Roth and Hagar!

That same month Billboard announced that Roth and Van Halen would reunite for a US tour and it was also released on the official Van Halen website. But, by March Eddie posted news on their website that he was in rehab! And, changed the band’s logo at the top of their page back to the original Pre-Hagar logo!

On March 12, 2007, the ceremony for the induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was held. Only two of the band’s members were present, Hagar and Anthony, ironically both of which were no longer members!

In May, Eddie left rehab and announced that it had been a success. And, amid almost a year of rumors, in August both Van Halen and Roth announced on their websites that the band was reuniting for a tour of North America beginning in late September.

The Van Halen website was redesigned, Michael Anthony was removed from all the artwork on the albums. The uproar of controversy ended in all the artwork being changed back to normal the next day!

The North American tour was scheduled for 25 appearances. But, with the positive reviews the tour was changed to continue into 2008. Rolling Stone’s magazine has called the tour the “Miracle of the Year”!

Van Halen was on of the very first major bands to travel with a stage show. And, was the first to use a technical rider, to make sure all of the bands needs would be met where ever they performed.

Even with all the problems the band has faced, their enormous success is constant reminder of the bands worldwide popularity. As of 2007, the band had worldwide sales of over 80 million albums!

Van Halen has had more number one hits on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart than any other band. And, with U.S. album sales of over 56 million, the RIAA lists them as the 19th best selling band of all time. They also hold the honor of being only one of five rock bands with two albums that have reached sales of over 10 million copies in the United States!

Written by Connie Corder, Copyright 2010

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.