Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Influences: Van Halen

It’s always gonna be, David Lee Roth or Sammy Hagar? Man, I don’t care either way, they rocked with both! I have been to two Van Halen concerts in my life, one with DLR and one with Sammy, all I can say is, at both of them, there were girls all over the place willing to do anything for nothing. Yeah buddy! I cashed that check. Haha As for Gary Cherone, yeah, I’ll take a pass, thank you.

Back in high school, all the wanna-be’s wanted to be Eddie Van Halen. He rips through those chords like they were emotions coming from his soul. (Who’s to say they weren’t?) And this is what influenced me to a larger degree. As a songwriter, he is certainly one of the best. As a musician, he is the best! (Eric Clapton not withstanding) And don’t think I didn’t envy him being married to Valarie Bertinelli either because I did. LOL

Van Halen is an American hard rock band formed in Pasadena, California, in 1972. Its 1978 debut album, “Van Halen” - featuring guitarist Eddie Van Halen, vocalist David Lee Roth, drummer Alex Van Halen, and bassist Michael Anthony - is widely considered to be among the most original and revolutionary albums to change rock and roll.

According to the Recording Industry Association of America, Van Halen is the 19th best-selling band/artist in United States history, with sales of over 56 million albums in the U.S. and over 86 million albums worldwide, (with the band's former record company, Warner Bros. Records, last certifying Van Halen's albums in 2004.) Van Halen is one of only five rock bands that have had two albums sell more than 10 million copies in the U.S. Additionally, Van Halen has had the most #1 hits in the history of Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart.

In addition to Van Halen's many popular songs, the band is known for the drama surrounding the exits of former members. The multiple exits of lead singers David Lee Roth, Sammy Hagar and Gary Cherone were surrounded in controversy and press coverage, including numerous conflicting press statements between the former singers and the band. Following their 2004 concert tour the band was on a hiatus from the public until September 2006, when new bassist Wolfgang Van Halen’s place was confirmed and Roth reunion rumors began to re-surface, both events coinciding with the band's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction on March 12th, 2007. After years of speculation, Van Halen began a tour with Roth across North America in 2007 and into 2008. On December 26th, 2011, Van Halen announced a tour for 2012, and released their first album in 14 years, titled “A different Kind Of Truth”, on February 7th, 2012.

Born in Nijmegen, Netherlands, Eddie Van Halen and his brother Alex are the sons of musician Jan Van Halen, who arranged for them to have music lessons. The Van Halen brothers started playing music together in the 1960s when Eddie played classical piano and later drums, and Alex played the guitar. While Eddie was delivering newspapers on his paper route, Alex would sneak over and play on Eddie's drumset. Eventually Eddie found out about Alex playing his drum set and was so frustrated that he told Alex, “OK, I'll go play your guitar.”


In 1972 the Van Halen brothers formed a band called “Genesis” featuring Eddie as lead vocalist/guitarist, Alex on drums, and Mark Stone on bass. They initially rented a sound system from David Lee Roth but decided to save money by letting him join as lead vocalist even though his previous audition(s) had been unsuccessful. By 1974 the band decided to replace Stone, so Michael Anthony, bassist and lead vocalist from local band “Snake” was auditioned. Following an all-night jam session, he was hired for bass and backing vocals.
The band later changed its name to Mammoth when they discovered the name “Genesis” already was being used. Then in 1974 “Mammoth” officially changed its name to “Van Halen“. According to Roth, this was his brainchild. He felt it was a name that had power, like Santana. They played backyard parties and on a flatbed truck at Hamilton Park. Van Halen played clubs in Pasadena and Hollywood to growing audiences, increasing their popularity through self-promotion: before each gig they would pass out fliers at local high schools. This soon built them a major following. Later that year, the band got its first break when it was hired to play at Gazzarri’s, a formerly famous but down-at-the-heels night club on the Sunset Strip which closed in 1996.

Earlier, they had auditioned for the owner, Bill Gazzarri, but he claimed they were “too loud“, and would not hire them. But their new managers, Mark Algorri and Mario Miranda, who had coincidentally taken over Gazzarri’s hiring, did the deal. Shortly afterwards, they recorded their first demo tape at the now defunct Cherokee Ranch Studios in Northridge where Steely Dan recently had completed an album. Van Halen became a staple of the Los Angeles music scene during the mid-1970s, playing at well-known clubs.

According to a January 4, 1977, L.A. Times article entitled HOMEGROWN PUNK by Robert Hilburn, Rodney Bingenheimer saw Van Halen at the Gazzarri club in the summer of 1976, so he took Gene Simmons of Kiss to see Van Halen. Gene Simmons then produced a Van Halen demo tape with recording beginning at the Village Recorder studios in Los Angeles and finished with overdubs at the Electric Lady Studios in New York. Simmons wanted to change the band's name to “Daddy Longlegs“, but the band stuck with Van Halen. Simmons then opted out of further involvement after he took the demo to Kiss management and was told that “they had no chance of making it” and that they wouldn't take them.

In mid-1977 Mo Ostin and ted Templeman of Warner Bros. Records saw Van Halen perform at the Starwood in Hollywood. Although the audience was small, the two were so impressed with Van Halen that within a week they offered the band a recording contract. The group recorded their debut album at Sunset Sound recorders studio in mid September to early October 1977, recording guitar parts for one week and then recording vocals for two additional weeks. All of the tracks were laid down with little over-dubbing or double tracking. Minor mistakes were purposely left on the record and a simple musical set-up was used to give the record a live feel. During this time they continued to play various venues in Southern California, including some notable concerts at the Pasadena Convention Center produced by their promoter and impresario, Steve Tortomasi, himself a fixture in the local rock and roll scene.


Upon its release, “Van Halen” reached No. 19 on the Billboard pop music charts, one of rock's most commercially successful debuts. It was highly regarded as both a heavy metal and hard rock album. The album included songs now regarded as Van Halen classics, like “Running With The Devil” and the guitar solo “Eruption“, which showcased Eddie's use of a technique known as ’finger tapping’. The band toured for nearly a year, opening for Black Sabbath and establishing a reputation for their performances. The band's chemistry owed much to Eddie Van Halen's technical guitar wizardry and David Lee Roth's flamboyant antics, strong points which later made them rivals. The band returned to the studio in 1978 for “Van Halen II“, an album similar in style to their debut. This record yielded the band's first hit single, “Dance The Night Away”.

Over the next few years, the band alternated album releases and touring. Their “Women and Children First” album was released in 1980 and further cemented Van Halen's status. But in 1981, during the recording of the “Fair Warning” album, tensions rose. Eddie's desire for more serious and complex songs was at odds with Roth's poppy style. Although Roth (and producer Templeman) acquiesced to Eddie's wishes.

“Diver Down” performed better. The band then earned a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for the highest-paid single appearance of a band: $1.5 million for a 90-minute set at the 1983 US Festival. Despite this return to form, Roth and Eddie's differences continued, and this caused friction with other band members. Billy Sheehan, after his band Talas completed a tour with Van Halen, claims he was approached by Eddie Van Halen to replace Michael Anthony. The reasons for this were never clear to Sheehan because nothing came out of it. During this time Eddie and Alex Van Halen contributed the score and instrumental songs to the movie “The Wild Life“, starring Eric Stoltz. The score was heavy on the keyboards, similar to the sound used on the previous two albums and much more like the sound coming in the upcoming album “1984“.




“1984“ (released on January 9, 1984) was their commercial pinnacle. Recorded at Eddie Van Halen's newly-built 5150 Studios, the album featured keyboards, which had only been used sporadically on previous albums. The lead single, “Jump“, featured a synthesizer hook and anthemic lyrics, and became the band's first and only No. 1 pop hit, garnering them a Grammy nomination. Other singles included “Panama” (#13 U.S.), “I’ll Wait” (also No. 13 U.S.), and “Hot For Teacher“. Three of the songs had popular music videos on MTV. “1984” was praised by critics and fans alike, peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard charts behind Michael Jackson's “Thriller”.

The album, however, was also a breaking point for the band. In the midst of the 1984 Tour the artistic and personal tensions among the musicians reached a fever pitch. Reasons for the breakup vary based on the band member interviewed, but were rooted in control of the band's sound and image. Roth was upset about Eddie playing music outside of Van Halen without checking with the band, and his alleged drug abuse that allegedly prevented the band from viable practices. Eddie was sick of Roth's flamboyant behavior and stage persona. Roth was also having a successful solo career with a hit song and EP (a remake of The Beach Boys classic “California Girls” (#3 U.S.) and the old standard “Just A Gigolo” (#12 U.S.). Roth was also offered a $20-million film deal for a script entitled “Crazy For The Heat”. Roth hoped Van Halen would contribute the soundtrack; however, the film deal fell through when MGM Pictures was sold in 1986.

Eddie invited Patty Smyth of Scandal to replace Roth but she refused. Eddie was then introduced by way of a mutual auto mechanic to Sammy Hagar, formerly of 1970s band Montrose, and at that time a solo artist coming off a very successful year. His hit single “I can’t Drive 55” came from his 1984 album “VOA“, produced by Ted Templeman who had also produced Hagar's first album “Montrose”, as well as all of Van Halen's albums up to that point. Hagar agreed to join and also serve as a rhythm guitarist on stage to add to the Van Halen sound. The 1986 Van Halen album 5150 was a hit, becoming the band's first No. 1 album on the Billboard charts, driven by the keyboard-dominated singles “Why Can’t This Be Love” (#3 U.S.), “Dreams“, and “Love Walks In” (Top 30 U.S.). To further introduce the new era for the band, a new Van Halen logo was put on the cover. The new logo retained elements of the original, but now the lines extending from either side of 'VH' wrapped around and formed a ring.

Following the release of the 5150 album, a tour was launched to support it across North America. Named the 1986 Tour, the title was a homage to the previous 1984 Tour in support of the “1984”album. Footage was released on VHS and DVD as Live Without A Net. In the tour Hagar wanted to minimize the use of pre-Hagar Van Halen songs in the set, other than the band's best known classics. This was a trend that continued, with the expanding repertoire of Hagar-era songs slowly whittling away at the number of Roth-era songs on the set list.


All four studio albums produced during this period reached No. 1 on the Billboard pop music charts and 17 singles breached the top 12 of the mainstream rock tracks chart. During that era, a single taken from 1988's 'OU812', “When It‘s Love“, reached the Top Five, peaking at No. 5. In addition, Van Halen was nominated for two Grammy Awards, winning the 1992 Best Hard Rock Performance with Vocal award for the album For “Unlawful Carnal Knowledge”. Van Halen continued to enjoy success throughout the mid-90s. In 1995, Van Halen released the album 'Balance' & supported Bon Jovi on their European Summer Stadium tour.

During the recording of songs for the film “Twister“, escalating tension between Hagar and the Van Halen brothers boiled over and Hagar departed on Father’s Day, 1996. The band had recorded a song, “Human Being“, for which Eddie claimed he had to write all the lyrics since Hagar's were “too cheesy“. This upset Hagar, and when they were to record a second song for the soundtrack, Hagar was in Hawaii. He wasn't keen on doing soundtrack work since it would make the music hard to obtain for fans, 'abusing' them, so the second track the band was due to record became an Eddie/Alex instrumental, “Respect The Wind“.

The band was also working on a compilation album. This led to conflicts with Hagar and the group's new manager, Ray Danniels (Ed Leffler's replacement and Alex Van Halen’s former brother-in-law), even though it was former manager Ed Leffler who renewed their contract with Warner Bros. Records and added in the Best Of album option years before. Hagar was reluctant to work on a compilation album before a new album came out, the band fell out, leaving the management siding with Eddie and Alex. Hagar also had concerns over comparisons on an album which featured both his work and Roth's. Hagar claimed that he was fired; Van Halen claimed that he quit. Most accounts confirm that Hagar technically quit, but only upon finding that Van Halen had secretly been recording with their former vocalist David Lee Roth which saw them reunite briefly in 1996.

Van Halen's next lead singer was Gary Cherone, front-man of the then-defunct Boston - based band Extreme, a group which had enjoyed some popular success in the early 1990s. The result was the album Van Halen III (the roman numeral III signifying not the album number but the band's third lead singer). Many songs were longer and more experimental than Van Halen's earlier work. It was a notable contrast from their previous material, with more focus on ballads than traditional rock songs. Sales were poor by the band's standards, only reaching Gold certification, despite the album peaking at No. 4 on the US charts. Van Halen III did produce a hit however, “Without You“, and additionally the song “Fire in the Hole” appeared on the Lethal Weapon 4 soundtrack. The album was followed by a tour. The III Tour saw Van Halen playing in new countries, including first ever visits to Australia and New Zealand.

Shortly afterwards, Van Halen returned to the studio and in early 1999, they started work on a new album. The project was left unfinished when Cherone left the band amicably in November of 1999. Citing musical differences, it is likely III’s poor sales and critical reception had a big impact. None of the material from these sessions has ever been released, and in fact the band released no new material at all (aside from three new songs included on the 2004 Best Of Both Worlds compilation) in the years following until January 10, 2012.
Touring with Cherone had proven disappointing in terms of attendance. Eddie would later admit that “the powers that be” (Warner Bros.) had forced his hand in parting with Cherone. Unlike with the previous two singers, there was reportedly no bad blood behind the breakup, and Cherone remained in contact and on good terms with Van Halen. As when Hagar left, speculation resumed on a Roth reunion.

Their official website was updated on December 26, 2011, announcing that tickets for their 2012 Tour would be available starting January 10, 2012. On January 5, 2012, Van Halen played an intimate club gig at New York City's Café Wha?, which received widespread praise from media and fans. On January 10, the band's first single, titled “Tattoo“, made its premiere on radio stations. The following week, the single debuted at No. 67 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart. The band's new studio album from Interscope records, entitled “A Different Kind Of Truth”, was released on February 7, 2012. It was Van Halen's first studio release since 1998 and first with David Lee Roth on lead vocals since 1984.

Where will they go from here? … Only time (and the power that be) knows the answer to that one.




Source: Wikipedia

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