The Van Halen brothers (Eddie and Alex) were born in the
Netherlands, which is where they started learning to play music.
Alex started out on guitar, Eddie on drums, and the two swapped early on
after the realization they liked what their brother was doing better.
Many people do not know that Van Halen (the group) formed
way back in 1972 in Pasadena, CA as a band called Genesis. They
started out as a threesome, and after realizing how much it would cost
to rent David Lee Roth's sound system, they decided to let Roth join the
band (they all went to high school together). After changing their
name to Mammoth (Genesis was taken, duh), Roth encouraged the band to
change their name to Van Halen. Van Halen soon became a huge local
draw in the L.A. and Pasadena area. They went from nobody's to
holding the record as having the most number 1 hits on the Billboard
Mainstream Rock charts.
Van Halen's big break came at a club called Gazzarri's,
where an enamored Gene Simmons (Kiss) heard the band and decided to help
them produce a demo. Interestingly enough, when Gene took the demo
to Kiss Management for further production, they turned him down saying
the band had no chance to make it big. I think Gene's hunch was
right, what do you think? By 1977, some Warner Brother's execs had
a change to hear the band and quickly put them on the fast track to a
record deal. The band's initial self-titled release charted at 19
on the Billboard pop music charts. Many of you will remember the
song "Running with the Devil" from this album.
Several more hit albums quickly followed
as tensions began to rise between Eddie Van Halen and
David Lee Roth (both wanted to be the showboat).
Although things were hanging on by a thread, the band's
1984 release (1984) was their largest commercial
success to date. The album featured keyboards as a
new staple for the band, included in the hit "Jump".
Other notable songs from this album included "Hot for
Teacher" and "Panama". It was about this time that
Roth had ventured out with a solo project that widely
popular ("California Girls", "Just a Gigolo"), and soon
after, Roth was out and Sammy Hagar was in.
With Hagar on vocals,
5150 was released in 1986, an album that charted
at number 1 on the Billboard Charts. You might
remember songs like "Why Can't This Be Love", "Dreams",
and "Love Walks In" from this album. Although
subsequent Van Halen albums with Hagar on vocals did not
do as well as 5150, they were still commercially
successful. By 1996, tensions once again began to
rise for Van Halen. The Van Halen brothers wanted
to record two songs for the soundtrack for the movie
Twister, and a greatest hits release album was
currently in the works. Hagar did not agree to
either venture, and soon the Van Halen brothers were
working with Roth again for two new songs.
This reunion between
Roth and Van Halen was short lived, and it wasn't long
before Roth was out and Gary Cherone (Extreme) was hired
as the new vocalist. Van Halen III was the
only album released with Cherone, and it did have a
couple of hits (you may remember the songs "Without You"
and "Fire in the Hole". Cherone left the band
amicably in 1999, supposedly encouraged by Warner
Brothers due to the lackluster performance of the album
and lower tour attendance.
As the years have gone on, there have been reunions with
both Hagar and Roth. The latest reunion with Hagar was squashed
due to Eddie's drinking problems, and supposedly the latest Roth reunion
is on hiatus because these old guys need a rest. As of 2012, Van
Halen (with Roth on vocals) released the album A Different Kind of
Truth, which is actually more or less old school (pre 1984) Van
Halen. A great album. Unfortunately, we at ilovethe80s.com
had tickets to the show for a midwest concert that was canceled.
We are waiting to see what happens. At the time of this writing,
the Van Halen Discography was as follows:1978: Van Halen
1979: Van Halen II
1980: Women and Children First
1981: Fair Warning
1982: Diver Down
1991: For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge
1998: Van Halen III
2012: A Different Kind of Truth