Running with the Devil: A Lifetime of Van Halen

From SLAKE: The Los Angeles Quarterly:

By John Albert

The first time I hear Van Halen I am fourteen years old, riding in a car through the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. My friend Steve Darrow is riding shotgun while his dad steers the dusty old Volvo station wagon. Chris Darrow is in his forties and has long hair and a slightly drooping cowboy mustache. In the sixties and early seventies, as a member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and an obscure but influential group called the Kaleidoscope, he, along with Gram Parsons, Linda Ronstadt, and others, forged what became the classic California sound. His long-haired, Black Sabbath–loving son, Steve, sitting shotgun next to him, would go on to play in an early version of Guns N’ Roses. But on this particular night Chris is driving us and another friend named Peter home from a party thrown by a local ceramics artist. While the aging hippies and college professors sipped wine and purchased meticulously decorated casserole plates, my friends and I hiked into a nearby orange grove to smoke pot in the moonlight. And as the car heads home along Baseline Boulevard, passing the silhouttes of orange groves and vineyards, the three of us are still incredibly stoned and no one is talking much.

Someone turns on the radio. It’s tuned to KROQ, a small, independent station that has little in common with the corporate behemoth it would become. In 1978, the station broadcasts a strange mix of surreal sketch comedy and new music across the Southland. A show called The Hollywood Night Shift riffs on “barbecue bat burgers” and “downhill screen-door races.” Meanwhile, the station’s present-day last man standing, Rodney Bingenheimer, who morning goons Kevin and Bean use as a prop for their moronic shtick, introduces punk music to kids across Southern California. By this time, my friends and I have already fallen under the sway of the raw, new sounds emerging from a ripped, torn, and safety-pin-adorned England.

As we cruise along Baseline, I have no idea what’s on the radio. I stare out the window into a passing darkness with hazy, Mexican-weed-induced tunnel vision. Then, suddenly, this extraordinary sound from the car’s stereo snaps me back. Steve reaches over and turns up the volume. It’s guitar playing, but not like anything we have heard before. Until this very moment, the reigning guitar heroes have been English, amateur warlocks, such as Jimmy Page and Ritchie Blackmore, playing sped-up, bastardized versions of American blues. But this is faster and weirder. Toward the one-minute mark, the playing veers into completely uncharted territory, and the final forty-two seconds sound like Gypsy jazz legend Django Reinhardt on CIA acid.

It is a style of playing that will so dramatically alter the musical landscape that thirty years later it will sound normal, even rote. But in 1978, this burst of unabashed virtuosity and noise, something we’ll later learn is appropriately called “Eruption,” earns unexpected respect from three punk rock children and one middle-aged country rock musician. As the whole thing reaches a frenzied crescendo of undulating distortion, the four of us start to laugh.

Until, that is, the distortion immediately segues to a revamped version of the Kinks’ classic “You Really Got Me,” rumbling through the car’s little speakers. This is not hard rock as we know it—no highpitched, operatic wailing about sorcery or Viking lore. With no visual reference to go on, it seems to have as much in common with early punk as with bands such as Led Zeppelin and Rush—except, of course, for the crazy, outer-space guitar solo. In retrospect, this makes perfect sense. Before it became one of the biggest bands in the world, Van Halen routinely played on bills with prepunk bands like the Runaways, the Mumps, and the Dogs.

When the song ends, Steve’s dad, who may or may not be stoned as well, just nods his head and says, “Far out.”

***

It is the soundtrack to a world that doesn’t exist anymore. I know because that world is where I come from.

Van Halen had been playing the suburbs east of Los Angeles for several years before we heard them on the radio that night. In fact, the previous year, Peter’s diminutive, science-teacher mom, who when speaking tended to coo pleasantly like a pigeon, unwittingly supplied Van Halen with several bottles of bourbon and tequila. The occasion was the band’s appearance at a show on the local college radio station hosted by Peter’s older, but still underage, brother and some of his friends. Following seventies rock etiquette, they felt it only proper to provide the band with alcohol and other recreational substances.

I remember this because my friends and I had been coerced into distributing fliers announcing the band’s appearance on the show. Most of our peers glanced at the crudely rendered image of a young David Lee Roth flaunting his soon-to-be legendary chest pelt and bulging package and simply tossed the fliers away. A lot of those same kids would, several years later, pay large sums of money to see the band headline the massive Forum in Inglewood.

In the years leading up to their record deal and worldwide fame, the Internet was still science fiction and the only video game widely available, Pong, mimicked pingpong only without the riveting excitement and health benefits. As a result, kids were primarily focused on two things, rock music and getting wasted. Days were spent under the sun and smog, getting high, playing sports, skateboarding in empty swimming pools and on downhill streets. Weekend nights were devoted almost entirely to massive backyard parties. And Van Halen ruled the backyard party scene in and around the San Gabriel Valley.

Unsuspecting parents would leave town and hundreds of kids would descend on a designated home like tanned, stoned locusts. Down the block from my parents’ house was a large, ramshackle manor known as the Resort. Sunburned British drunks lived there, and their kids were a wild and eccentric brood bearing names such as Yo-Yo, Kiddy, Sissy, Lad, and Mims.

Parties at the Resort were notorious. I remember watching a formally attired adult couple slow their car in front of the Resort as a party raged inside. Some longhaired kids staggered into the street, walked onto the hood of the couple’s car and then its roof, howling like wolves. My preteen friends and I finally mustered the courage to venture inside one of the parties. There, we discovered a maze of hedonistic delights: the dining-room table lined with cocaine, a cracked door revealing a nubile high school girl having sex, people jumping from second-story windows into the pool, fights and noisy drag races in the street out front. Throughout the beautifully raucous affair, a young rock ’n’ roll band named China White stood precariously close to the swimming pool playing with all the swagger of the Rolling Stones at Madison Square Garden.

While Van Halen played the huge outdoor parties and lucrative high school dances, China White was the band of choice in my immediate neighborhood. The group was composed of young heroin addicts who wore cowboy hats and played Southern rock. Somehow, it was a style that made perfect sense in the slowed-down, drugged-out seventies suburbs. Besides a few performances at the Resort, the band’s highest-profile gigs were at the palatial hillside estate of a local ice cream fortune heir. The band’s leader, John Dooley, now lives in Bangkok, where he teaches music and plays in a rhythm and blues revue.

“Those were some epic fucking parties,” Dooley says when I reach him by phone in Bangkok. “We had a big stage on the tennis courts and the pool house was our backstage area. We invited 500 fellow students, charged a cover, and then got all my older brother’s biker buddies to bounce and run screen for the cops. There would be close to a thousand kids there and we would be getting high and fucking chicks in the pool house between sets. I remember we left with our guitar cases stuffed with cash.”

But it was with his next band, Mac Pinch, that Dooley’s path began to cross regularly with Van Halen’s as the two bands shared bills both locally and in Hollywood. “I was always really impressed by Eddie Van Halen and their bass player [Michael Anthony]. They definitely stood out musically, especially Eddie,” Dooley says. “Their singer, Roth, was like the guy we had—by no means a great singer, but really loud and worked the crowd well. They used to have a party van with the Van Halen logo painted on the sides, and Roth was always out there in that van. He was kind of obnoxious, but he had a real knack with the ladies. He would bring them out to that van one after another. I had more than my share, but Roth did better than his band and ours combined. We used to play this biker bar in Downey with them called the Downey Outhouse, where they served popcorn in bedpans and beer in urinals.

“It got pretty competitive between the bands, and one time our roadie unplugged Van Halen during a show at the Pasadena Civic.”

During these years, roughly 1974 to 1976, Van Halen surpassed all rivals, including San Fernando Valley stars Quiet Riot, to emerge as the premier hard-rock act in Los Angeles. Besides a willingness to play nearly anywhere at any time—the band once played an early-morning breakfast concert at my high school a few years before I attended—the band’s rise seemed due, largely, to two distinct qualities. One was the playing of Eddie Van Halen, who had perfected the innovative method of using the fingers of his picking hand to pound the guitar’s fret board, creating a lightning-fast, quasiclassical style that quickly became the talk of Southland musicians. Van Halen reportedly became so guarded about this technique that he began to play solos with his back to the audience.

And while the teenage boys came to marvel at Eddie’s technical virtuosity, the girls flocked to see the band’s flamboyant lead singer. David Lee Roth would take the stage shirtless, wearing skin-tight spandex pants or fur-lined assless chaps, none of which dampened his enthusiasm for jumping into the air and doing karate kicks and splits. Visually, Roth resembled a stoner superhero with his wild, long blond hair, muscular physique and exaggerated party bravado. But what set him apart from so many aspiring front men of the time, was that, unbeknownst to his mostly blond-haired, blue-eyed audience, Roth was Jewish. And though his father was a wealthy ophthalmologist, young Roth went to public schools and ended up attending primarily black John Muir High in Pasadena. As a result, he was able to merge an over-the-top, borscht-belt-like showmanship with the booty-shaking sex appeal of his Funkadelicized classmates. It was a combination that made Roth a near perfect rock star for those hedonistic times.

While Van Halen’s star rose, my friend Dooley and Mac Pinch were on a different trajectory. Instead of showcasing alongside their one-time rivals at Hollywood clubs such as the Starwood and the Whisky, the drug-addled young cowboys started booking USO tours and playing military bases to support their various nonmusical habits. When Van Halen finally had its big breakthrough and signed to Warner Bros. Records, Mac Pinch was off playing to halls of drunken Marines.

“Those were serious smack days for me,” Dooley reflects. “Eventually it all caught up to me and I had to come back home and do some jail time, and that was the end of the band.” (We don’t discuss how Dooley stole my parents’ television set.) I ask him if he has regrets after seeing his former rivals go on to such massive success.

“Do I think we should have tried harder? That maybe it could have been us?” he offers. “Sure. But we had a lot of fun playing those parties. I have some great memories. It was a pretty awesome time to be young and playing in a rock ’n’ roll band.”

***

Two years after first hearing Van Halen on the car radio, the world around me seems a dramatically different place. My once-long hair is now short and jagged and I’m wearing studded wristbands with a spider-shaped earring punched through an infected hole in my ear. In suburbs across Southern California, punk rockers have swelled from a besieged minority to an increasingly aggressive subculture. There are pervasive hostilities between the heavy-metal-loving “stoners” and the new punks. Both sides instigate violence. By now, I have been expelled from the local high school for truancy and am enrolled in something called Claremont Collegiate Academy. Despite its snooty name, the place is filled with kids who have failed at the local high schools. My classmates are mainly longhaired drug users, agitated Iranian immigrants, and kids with assorted behavioral disorders. The principal will eventually be arrested on child porn charges.

During one lunch break, I stroll out into the school parking lot and am greeted by the pounding, tribal drums of Van Halen’s latest single, “Everybody Wants Some,” blasting from the open doors of a huge four-wheel-drive truck. Two very attractive teenage girls stand on the truck’s roof, dancing to the music. Both are outfitted in tight, shimmering spandex pants, halter tops, and moon boots. They bump their perfectly shaped asses together and sing along with David Lee Roth: “Everybody wants some/I want some too/Everybody wants some, baby, how ’bout you.” As I walk by, a girl with feathered blond hair points at me and sneers, seductively, singing, “Everybody wants some, baby, how ’bout you?”

I do.

A week later, I end up ditching school with the monster truck’s down-jacket-wearing owner and the two dancing girls. We drive into the nearby mountains to sip Southern Comfort and smoke pot. The girls tell me that Van Halen singer David Lee Roth is a “super fox” and they both desperately want to fuck him. On the drive home, I’m in the truck’s back seat making out with the blond girl. Her lip gloss tastes like raspberry candy. I caress her nipples through her shirt and eventually slip a finger between her legs, which seems like a monumental achievement. I stop when I realize she has fallen asleep in my arms. A few days later, she pulls me into an unoccupied darkroom between classes and we fondle one another for a few seconds. After several more brief flirtations, the pull of our opposing camps is just too much and we eventually stop talking. A year later, I run into her at a local hamburger stand, where she works behind the counter. She hands me my food and waves me off before I can pay.

***

I’m an eighteen-year-old in the basement of a Hollywood nightclub called the Cathay De Grande. Slumped in an empty booth, my eyes are closed and my head rests on the table. Fifteen minutes earlier, I injected heroin inside the cramped restroom with the sound man. It is a Monday night and a local blues outfit called Top Jimmy and he Rhythm Pigs are on the small stage. They are fronted by a white-trash blues legend, Top Jimmy, and play the club every Monday night. The place is nearly empty. The Rhythm Pigs are cool, but like most in attendance, I am really here to score drugs. This accomplished, I nod off, lost in some distant dream world as the band plays their hearts out just a few feet away.

When I eventually drift back to reality, something odd catches my ear. Instead of Top Jimmy’s throaty voice, someone lets loose with an exaggerated, arena-rock scream. Perplexed, I lift my head and focus on the small stage. There, sandwiched between the band’s rotund bass player and slovenly guitar player, Carlos Guitarlos, is none other than David Lee Roth, holding the microphone and striking a majestic rock pose. It’s surreal seeing one of the most successful singers in the world standing in this dilapidated basement club alongside a bunch of musicians teetering on the brink of homelessness and liver failure.

“Whoa-bop-ditty-doobie-do-bop, oh yeah, baby!” Roth yells out, putting his arm around an inebriated Top Jimmy. As bleary-eyed Jimmy leans in and begins to sing, Roth watches him with a beaming smile, clapping his hands and laughing in exaggerated-but-sincere appreciation. “Top-motherfucking Jimmy!” he yells out, as if addressing a sold-out arena instead of several stunned junkies and alcoholics. The reaction from the sparse crowd is indifference bordering on hostility. There is nothing less cool in the Hollywood underground than a seemingly happy millionaire rock star. But Top Jimmy is smiling with his arm around Roth. And a few years later, when Van Halen releases its multiplatinum-selling record 1984, the album features a track called “Top Jimmy.”

“Top Jimmy cooks, Top Jimmy swings, Top Jimmy—he’s the king,” Roth sings in tribute to his friend, who would eventually die of liver failure.

***

The next two decades are a creative dark age for Van Halen. After years of ego-fueled turmoil from all sides, David Lee Roth leaves the band to pursue a doomed solo career. An entirely unremarkable singer named Sammy Hagar replaces him and Van Halen becomes one of the most boring bands in existence. Roth recedes from the limelight, studying martial arts and making an ill-fated stab as a radio deejay.

Eddie’s excessive drinking begins to take a toll. One night in 1993 at the height of the grunge years, a drunken Eddie appears backstage for a Nirvana concert at the Forum. He reportedly begs Kurt Cobain to let him join the band on stage, explaining, “I’m all washed up; you are what’s happening now.” He also, for unexplained reasons, supposedly sniffs Cobain’s deodorant before calling Nirvana’s half-black rhythm guitarist Pat Smear a “Mexican” and a “Raji.” Needless to say, he is not allowed on stage.

In the following years, news of Van Halen is sporadic, largely unsubstantiated, and generally not positive. One story has Eddie sitting in with guitarless rap-rock buttheads Limp Bizkit. When they are slow to return his prized equipment, Eddie supposedly goes back with automatic weapons. An acquaintance of mine who sells rare guitars does some business with Eddie and subsequently receives lonely, rambling, late-night phone calls from him. An old friend who is now a teacher hosts a day for his students to bring in their grandparents. One student inexplicably brings in Eddie Van Halen. He stays for hours, politely talking to the kids about his Dutch heritage and childhood music studies.

During this time, Roth is arrested in a New York City park for purchasing weed. And when a meth-addled man attempts a wee-hours break-in at the singer’s Pasadena mansion, the intruder is surprised to find “Diamond Dave” wide awake and at the ready. Some accounts have Roth training a gun on the intruder while others have the lifelong martial-arts enthusiast, resplendent in silk pajamas, subduing the man with a lightening-fast nunchuck demonstration.

But as the years pass, “important” bands like Nirvana feel increasingly dated while the celebratory party anthems of Roth-era Van Halen continue to dominate the airwaves. Their songs are played repeatedly every day on multiple stations throughout the civilized world. And after several well-publicized misfires including an aborted reunion and a stint with a much-maligned singer named Gary Cherone, Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth finally find their way back to each other in 2007. The group announces it will be hitting the road, though original bassist Michael Anthony is to be replaced by Eddie’s sixteen-year-old son, Wolfgang, who reportedly suggested the tour and persuaded his dad to reconcile with Roth. What ensues is the band’s highest-grossing tour to date.

I catch Van Halen’s show at the gleaming new Staples Center in downtown L.A., anticipating a heartfelt homecoming. Instead, I get a slick and entertaining professional rock show. There are no missteps, but little if anything seems spontaneous. Then, leading into the song “Ice Cream Man,” Roth stops and delivers a monologue. I later learn from watching videos online that it’s pretty much the same speech in every city. Still, it has particular significance in Los Angeles, mere miles from where it all started. “The suburbs, I come from the suburbs,” Roth says to the cheering crowd. “You know, where they tear out the trees and name streets after them. I live on Orange Grove—there’s no orange grove there; it’s just me. In fact, most of us in the band come from the suburbs and we used to play the backyard parties there. … I remember it like it was yesterday.”

***

Not long ago, I’m at my parents’ house in those very suburbs, visiting with my dad, who is slowly dying, his body wasting away. After leaving his house, I stop for gas. As I stand at the pump, a tall, disheveled man approaches me. He begins to ask for spare change, then stops and stares at me. After a moment, he says my name. I look back blankly and he awkwardly introduces himself. It turns out that we grew up together. The once-handsome and talented athlete has been drinking hard and using cocaine, and his life has unraveled in dramatic fashion. The last I’d heard, he was living behind a local bar in an abandoned camper shell but was asked to leave for having too many guests and making too much noise. I ask how he is and he just shakes his head. I take out my wallet and offer a twenty, which he refuses. I insist, and he eventually palms the bill and slides it into a pocket. After some strained small talk, he asks for a ride to a friend’s apartment. I reluctantly agree.

The two of us drive through the streets of our shared childhood in awkward silence. The orange groves have long since turned into a sprawl of tract housing and circuitous dead ends, both literal and figurative. I turn on the radio, scan stations, and eventually stop on Van Halen’s 1978 classic “Ain’t Talkin’ ’Bout Love.” I turn up the volume. After a few seconds, the propulsive guitar riff fades down and David Lee Roth begins to talk.

“I been to the edge, an’ there I stood an’ looked down/You know I lost a lot of friends there, baby, I got no time to mess around.”

The music builds in intensity before exploding into a powerful, defiant chorus: “Ain’t talkin’ ’bout love, my love is rotten to the core/Ain’t talkin’ ’bout love, just like I told you before, before, before/Hey hey hey!” By this time, my old friend is singing along and pumping his fist in the air. His eyes are moist from either alcohol, sadness, or both. The song finishes just as we pull in front of a dilapidated apartment complex, and he climbs out. He hesitates and looks in at me.

“Hey man, remember those crazy parties back in the day?” I nod and force a smile. Those were some good fucking times,” he says, reaching in and slapping my shoulder affectionately before disappearing into the darkness.

This article was originally published in Slake No. 2. To read all of the stories from that issue, purchase or subscribe at shop.slake.la.

  • “Lemon Scented Pledge” (bbl70)

    @ jeff adams: That is the coolest VH concert story. Makes me want to drink Jack on the rocks. I think you told us that once before. I love that stuff.

    I enjoy reading all of your arguments. You folks all bring up such good points. Leaps: you are rough around the edges brah but you make some good points and I appreciate your passion for VH. When VH comes to NJ I would like to synch up with some of you local folks and have a beer or two before the show. Im sure I will be by myself because my bitch wife would never want to go with me. Ha ha… only kidding, she just is a bitch most of the time.

  • Jones

    Halen High: But he still did them, didn’t he? Did he do zero? No. Keep spinning if you want. But, they were promoting a new album, not an old one.

    Phillster: Good one bro. Way to keep the debate going

  • Jones

    Halen High: How’s that ‘brand name’ been doing since Sammy first left the band in ’95?

    Well, it was still pretty huge up until then. Where was that DLR brand at that time?

    Since then, well, do we need to get into THAT again?

    Phillster: Hagar is not my musical hero. That honor, ironically, goes to Eddie Van Halen. I’m just getting old enough whereas I don’t need to overglamorize his legend. He’s the most awe-inspiring musician I’ve ever seen. But, he has plenty of flaws that too many people on here blame on somebody else. Sammy catches a ton of heat for Eddie’s transgressions. That’s where my support of Sammy comes in. Period.

  • http://yahoo therockmachine3

    please people somebody agree with me that this guys story is total BULLSHIT!!!!!!!!! you cant honestly belive that its even half true!!!!!! the guy obviously likes van halen so that part is true, but he has to be a fucking tool box to remember shit the way he does or that in all the moments of his life van halen just happens to comes on the radio and the music makes it a meaningful experience for him and whoevers dad is around the guy should go into comedy cause im laughing my ass off at him

  • Halen High

    Jones says:
    “Halen High: How’s that ‘brand name’ been doing since Sammy first left the band in ’95?”

    The CVH ‘brand name’ is doing great, based on the numerous accolades and tributes from journalists and other artists published in the media. Then again, CVH has always been revered. No matter what the band is doing, CVH is always talked about with great respect.

    As for Van Hagar…by ’95 they were in decline, both critically and commercially. As for the humiliation of 2004, the legacy of Sammy era VH could have done without that.

    Jones says:
    “Well, it was still pretty huge up until then. Where was that DLR brand at that time?”

    This is CVH/Van Hagar debate. What does DLR solo have to do with it? (See earlier post for my opinion on DLR solo in response to CK’s comment).

    Jones says:
    “Since then, well, do we need to get into THAT again?”

    No we don’t need to get into that again. It’s depressing. But based on an overwhelming majority of fantastic reviews from critics and fans during a tour played to packed houses in 2007/08, VH are doing a lot better now. And we should ALL be happy about that.

    Jones says:
    “But he still did them, didn’t he? Did he do zero? No. Keep spinning if you want. But, they were promoting a new album, not an old one.”

    No spin mate. Even Mike backs me up on this.

    Two is pathetic. Four or five would have been reasonable and it’s what the fans wanted. Come on mate – you can’t deny that. Most Van Hagar fans even accept that Sammy was a dickhead for not singing more CVH songs. Don’t get me wrong, I also blame Eddie, Alex and Mike – they could have told him to do it. Sammy was only a replacement member so the brothers and Mike, as original foundation members who put in all the hard yards for 10 years, could have told him to do it because “our fans want to hear them”.

    And Sammy was silly for not doing so. He would have enjoyed a better relationship with the fanbase had he done so.

  • Jones

    Halen High: “Two is pathetic. Four or five would have been reasonable and it’s what the fans wanted. Come on mate – you can’t deny that.”

    How do you know what ‘the fans wanted’? I’m a fan and I didn’t want Hagar singing old Halen. Just like I didn’t want Halen doing old Hagar. So, YES, unequivocally I can deny that.

    “This is CVH/Van Hagar debate. What does DLR solo have to do with it?”

    It’s relevant to the extent that DLR faded much much quicker than Van Halen. He turned into a charicature of himself, and he might have brought down Halen much quicker. Hagar protected the ‘brand name’ from Clownsville.

    Not liking Hagar or Van Hagar, for that matter, is completely up to you. But, I have one single question for the Hagar haters: WHO WOULD YOU HAVE HIRED?

    Me? I would’ve stolen Steven Tyler away from Aerosmith. Or Joe Lynn Turner. Maybe even Coverdale.

  • “Lemon Scented Pledge” (bbl70)

    They could have hired Sebastian Navy from Skid row. That dude could have used the gig too. I drive bye his house everyday on my way to work. He lives in this contemporary shit shack across the street form a water treatment plant in my town. His son is a nice kid and used to work in the liquor store where I spend all my money. I don’t know why I brought up VH when I was in there one day bit we got to talkin and he said that he got to hang out with VH backstage on several occasions and had been to 5150 before. My two cents? I think Sammy was a good replacement for Dave in 1985 but I have lost alot of respect for him for the way he promoted his book. I still have not read it. And will not pay money for it but I am curious-i will admit.
    Leaps: You read Sammys book brah?

  • freddiegirl

    No Jones…just no. Steven Tyler..no. Coverdale…big no! Ugh..Coverdale couldn’t even handle having John Sykes upstage him in Whitesnake much less having to share a stage with King Edward. Nononono! I’ve always thought Coverdale was a pretentious f***; shame as he has a fabulous RnR voice. One of the best. I can’t believe I’m going to say this but Sammy was kind the best choice. At least he had a sense of humor.

    JACK n SAM..I’m just now seeing this! Hope you had a great Easter!

  • Halen High

    Jones says:
    “How do you know what ‘the fans wanted’? I’m a fan and I didn’t want Hagar singing old Halen. Just like I didn’t want Halen doing old Hagar. So, YES, unequivocally I can deny that.”

    This is so delusional it’s hardly worth it. Anyway, it did turn out to be a blessing that Sammy didn’t sing more CVH. He had no idea.

    “It’s relevant to the extent that DLR faded much much quicker than Van Halen. He turned into a charicature of himself, and he might have brought down Halen much quicker. Hagar protected the ‘brand name’ from Clownsville.”

    Again, so delusional what’s the point. Seriously dude, get a grip on reality. Other than Sammy, you would struggle to find 50 people on the internet worldwide who would think like this. You are obviously a CVH hater who can’t accept that most people think Van Hagar was boring, that all of VH’s peers ONLY refer to CVH as an influence, and that Sammy is constantly ridiculed in the media. And if you want to see a clown in action, check the 64 YEAR OLD, FAT, Hagar struggling to move while screaching the national anthem. Even his guitarist was visibly embarrassed LOL!

  • JACK N SAM

    “But, I have one single question for the Hagar haters: WHO WOULD YOU HAVE HIRED?”

    Honestly, I would not have hired anyone and would not have replaced Dave. I would have put the band on hiatus until we could work it out and move forward. There are certain band members you just don’t replace – Keith and Mick, Roger and Pete, Robert and Jimmy, Dave and Edward. Even now I would say I would have preferred no Van Halen for a few years than Van Hagar and Dave solo stuff.

    The constant touring and the ego tension and success is mostly what drove them apart. They just needed a break to let the air and their heads clear. Ed and Al could have pursued a solo project and got all that keyboard ballad stuff out of Ed’s system. Dave already did a solo project that was outside of the VH style.

    And after a break from each other they could have reconvened and blew everyone away. I always believed Sam just kind of slipped in by accident while Dave and the VH brothers were not talking. I think most people expected that to be a temporary thing and they would bring Dave back anytime.

    I don’t mean to offend the Van Hagar fans, but I think it would have been better that way.

  • Halen High

    Jones – seriously mate if you don’t like or appreciate Roth-VH, do yourself a favour and don’t read stories in the press about……CVH or Roth-VH. Simple. And if and when a new VH album comes out do the same – ignore it.

    Just read the Sammy stuff, listen to the old CDs and try and enjoy.

  • Halen High

    JACK N SAM says:
    “Honestly, I would not have hired anyone and would not have replaced Dave. I would have put the band on hiatus until we could work it out and move forward. There are certain band members you just don’t replace – Keith and Mick, Roger and Pete, Robert and Jimmy, Dave and Edward. Even now I would say I would have preferred no Van Halen for a few years than Van Hagar and Dave solo stuff.

    The constant touring and the ego tension and success is mostly what drove them apart. They just needed a break to let the air and their heads clear. Ed and Al could have pursued a solo project and got all that keyboard ballad stuff out of Ed’s system. Dave already did a solo project that was outside of the VH style.

    And after a break from each other they could have reconvened and blew everyone away. I always believed Sam just kind of slipped in by accident while Dave and the VH brothers were not talking. I think most people expected that to be a temporary thing and they would bring Dave back anytime.

    I don’t mean to offend the Van Hagar fans, but I think it would have been better that way.”

    I agree – they should have taken a year or two off and then tried to work out their differences. There was too much emotion and anger between them at the time. But I wanted them to find another frontman and move on. If it had to be Sammy, maybe they should have changed the name of the band and left the VH legacy alone.

  • http://yahoo therockmachine3

    eddie van halen had the itch up his ass to play the keyboards and synths to “branch out” so to speak and write ballads- so blame him for the stylistic changes post roth- the live rock sound they had with dave would sound good with sammy singing but it woulda been different i’ll give ya that however there is not one person on this earth who could ever possibly believe that every single piece of music that vh composed was not dictated by evh and was exactly how he wanted it to sound- quit ragging the singers they never had control of the band- its called van halen and he runs it the way he wants

  • Jones

    Halen High: Don’t condescend me jackass. When did I say I didn’t like the most mindblowing rock n roll I’ve ever heard in my life?

    You and JacknSam just supported my contention: That when pressed for an answer to something specific, you deflect. I ask who you would’ve hired other than Sammy, and you guys answer: I wouldn’t have gotten rid of Dave…….at least FreddieGirl answered the question, which I completely agree with, except the antiTyler stance….haha

    So, one more time Halen High: Put yourself in Eddie’s shoes and be forced to make a decision about a NEW frontman. Who’s it gonna be??

  • JACK N SAM

    Okay Jones, for what it’s worth, I will more specifically answer that exact scenario. Do you expect me to say, well I guess it would have to be Sammy then? No way.

    If I was Ed and I had NO CHOICE but to replace Roth, I would have done an exhaustive seach and hired an unknown – someone who was willing and able to sing the classic tunes so as not to ingore the existing catalogue, and someone who had a broader vocal range that would enable me to write a little differently. I never would have hired a known singer and not a woman and certainly not Sammy Hagar. Happy?

  • ElectricYouth44

    # Sparks in ’11 says:
    April 19th, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    “Very well done. In fact, I marvel at how few stories from the backyard party days surface. If I were there, I would’ve written a screenplay or book by now. What an unsung moment in time. Whom ever directed Boogie Nights should take a crack at the early VH days story. Shoot it in 3-D with dry ice smog in the theatres that smells like “lemon scented Pledge”. Make it so.”

    I second that remark. Well told story about a period of time that really hasn’t been given full coverage. We have the porn story and we have the disco story and we even have Fast Times at Ridgemont High. What we don’t have is the backstory on a character like Jeff Spicoli showing him going to those suburban backyard parties where Van Halen got its start. This concept needs to get pitched to someone receptive to it in Hollywood. I know there would be an audience!

  • jeff adams

    therockmachine3, how you do’in? I have to disagree w/ you on your last post. In the early days I beleive Dave had a lot of input on what songs were going to sound like and what songs were going to be on the albums, all the way to how they were going to look. Hell, he was the one who named the band VAN HALEN. Do you really think songs like “Big Bad Bill” or “Dancing in the Streets” would have been on a VH album if it wasn’t for Dave? Now, you can like his decisions or hate um, but I’m pretty sure those were his decisions. Personally, I beleive Dave was as big a part of VH as any other member. Dave, Ed, Al, and Mike are VH as a group, not individuals. Those four guys battled in the early days and there wasn’t a band out there that wanted to tangle w/ them. Four bad ass dudes from Pasadena. Just my take on VH, but what do I know.

  • http://yahoo therockmachine3

    ok jeff adams your right dave did suggest and have some input and his ideas were good ones at that however if evh had not liked em i do not believe they would have seen the light of day- i just mean evh is the musical muscle behind the band dave was more about the image, and i totally disagree about those 4 guys being “bad asses” maybe roth could have held his own in a fight but the other three woulda got there asses kicked 9 time outta 10

  • jeff adams

    therockmachine3 – correct, musically Ed was the muscle, and Dave made it look cool, and your also correct that Dave would have been doin the ass kickin, but no one wanted a part of any of them musically and showmanship. thanks for your response.

  • Halen High

    therockmachine3 says:
    “i just mean evh is the musical muscle behind the band dave was more about the image.”

    I disagree. While Eddie wrote the music, it was Dave’s input and suggestions to the melodic structure of many songs, as well as his lyrics and vocal style, that helped make the music of CVH great. Dave’s insistance on input to the instrumental aspect of the music was THE major reason why he and Eddie fought so much.

    “and i totally disagree about those 4 guys being “bad asses” maybe roth could have held his own in a fight but the other three woulda got there asses kicked 9 time outta 10.”

    Dave could definately hold his own. I reckon Mike could too.

    But they were all badass on stage (and backstage)!

  • http://yahoo therockmachine3

    i agree that roth had some input- sammy had input too- and maybe thats why they both got axed/quit because i believe evh wants it done his way or not at all- im just saying that evh has always had control or held more sway on final decisions about what gets released or what doesnt- totally agree that roths singing and melodies were a big part of the sound and dynamic of the cvh style but without eddies guitar driving it it would never have taken off like it did- thats why i say hes the muscle- i also think he a control freak who cant take a lead singer who has personality or ideas