The Diver Down tour, nicknamed the “Hide Your Sheep Tour,” was the biggest tour of its kind to date with over 170 tons of equipment required to put on the stage show. The tour didn’t kick off until July—much later in the year than on previous tours. On July 30, while in Louisville, Ed gave an hour-plus long interview yet again with Jas Obrecht who was still writing for Guitar Player at the time. The full, unedited audio tapes of those interviews reveal some astounding examples of where he was at the time. The tapes were actually stolen from Obrecht, the only such seizure in over 800 interviews he has conducted. Edward and Obrecht were both very unhappy that the full tapes made their way to the internet. Jas has successfully had the interview removed several times, but it simply will not go away, not in the 21st century.
Via my correspondence with Obrecht, he has allowed me to use a bit of the bell that cannot be unrung. Part of the transcribed interview addressed growing problems with Dave with specificity in a way that was never publicly revealed for 25 years:
EVH: “Cathedral,” I’ve been doing for, you know, over a year and I wanted to put it on a record. . . . It’s just that, uhhh, Dave said . . . “No more fucking guitar solos.” You know?
Obrecht: He’s crazy.
EVH: No, I mean, you know, he’s, he’s got—he’s on an ego trip. He has always been. . . . But uh, he just, you know, he just said, “Fuck this, man. No more guitar solos.” And uh, you know, Ted didn’t know that that’s the way Dave felt. And uh, so one day when Dave wasn’t there, I said, Ted, what do you think of this? And what do you think of that? You know, I played him “Little Guitars”, the intro, you know, the little flamenco sounding thing, and, uh, and “Cathedral” and he’s going like “God! Why the fuck didn’t you show me this earlier?!” And I explained to him, Dave just said, “Fuck the guitar hero shit, you know, we’re a band.” So Ted just said, you know, “Fuck Dave.” So we put it on anyway.
That seems to match up with Valerie’s story of how Dave belittled him after winning his 1980 guitarist of the year award. If Dave was worried that Ed was going to be doing things on his own, in retrospect he had every right to fear just such a thing.
Before they set out on tour, Edward received a late night phone call from famed producer Quincy Jones who was producing Thriller throughout most of 1982. Ed originally thought the call was a prank and hung up the phone. Eddie’s friend Steve Lukather was the principal guitarist on the track “Beat It.” At some point, the idea was born to bring in the all-star Edward Van Halen to add a unique touch to the hard-hitting Michael Jackson anthem. Jackson himself set out to write what he described as “the type of song that I would buy if I were to buy a rock song . . . That is how I approached it and I wanted the kids to really enjoy it—the school kids as well as the college kids.”
Edward was originally given what was called a sketch of the song and suggested rearrangements that were made to suit the solo section. Ed was truly out of his element in the legendary Quincy’s studio—the quintessential opposite of the Van Halen approach. God only knows how many individual tracks there are on the final version of “Beat It.” Again, like so many times before, it has gone down in lore that the solo was done in one take or two takes or pieced together from two or three takes. Regardless, surely no one knew the impact Ed’s solo, all of thirty seconds, would have on the music world at large at the time it was cut. For the mean time though, Ed’s stepping out would remain in the closet for about a year. He told no one about his participation. At the time, Eddie claimed he simply thought nothing of it.
Whose Band Is It?
Throughout the tour during the fall of 1982, Edward absolutely felt that his control over the band was slipping permanently away to Dave. A photo shoot for Life magazine that September was proclaimed wife-free by David, and the married men complied. For Dave’s guidance, the spread was littered with images of sexually-charged excess and rock and roll mayhem. It was the standard Van Halen image that the band had started out with, except now half the guys were married, so the image did not necessarily match the reality of the situation. But Van Halen was an extremely valuable brand, and Dave knew exactly what the public wanted.
However, Edward’s wife was not an unknown. She was an extremely high-profile celebrity at this point in time, and her good-girl image was being tarnished by the Van Halen image. Somewhere, this was not sitting well with someone, and Ed and Valerie were trotted out on Entertainment Tonight to salvage Valerie’s image by obviously softening Edward’s. The opening voice-over gave a clear indication of what was to follow: “The odds of Hollywood marriages lasting are pretty slim these days particularly considering the long working hours and time apart. . . . They seem to come from different worlds. So when these two teen idols decided a year ago to marry, many of their fans and friends said it wouldn’t work.” If ever there was a clearly obvious PR move, the interview featured Eddie and Valerie sitting in nearly matching white sweaters on a couch in front of a fireplace. Additionally, the interview featured an obviously fake cut of Edward actually flipping a pancake in the kitchen while Valerie awkwardly laughs along. They’re also shown cuddling with a set of tiny, white kittens. Stars go on Entertainment Tonight for public relations purposes, especially if the only angle is the state of their marriage. The interview featured the following transcribed exchanges:
Interviewer: The two of you seem to be so different. Valerie, you’re kind of the goodie two shoes and the rock world is supposed to be so insane.
Valerie: That’s it—you just said the key word—supposed to be. I mean I’ve seen more insane people in the TV world than I have in his world. I mean, you know.
EVH: I’ll verify that.
The interviewer suggested that their lifestyles were fairly incompatible and that reports were flying that their brief marriage was already on the rocks. Valerie was exasperated that some magazines and journalists went so far in an attempt to simply take down the seemingly happy couple. She stated that they were such normal people as far as they were concerned, which was a notion that she didn’t think others believed or could process.
On another tabloid television program, PM Magazine, the couple again went on the PR defensive about their marriage in an interview with Maria Shriver. Valerie again expressed frustration that she felt forced to repeat over and over that they were a happily married couple. Their potential incompatibility was reinforced by referring to the couple as the “all-American Valerie” and the “all-electric Eddie.” Edward said that he was much happier being married and having a home than he was constantly living on the road with hotels as his permanent address.
When Shriver noted the general belief that a “rock star’s life is groupies, drinking, late hours, and hard drugs,” the following exchange took place:
Maria Shriver: But does it apply to Edward Van Halen?
Edward: Take a guess? No.
Maria Shriver: ‘No. None of it.’ . . .
Edward: The late hours and drinking, maybe, yeah.
Maria: But the groupies . . .
Edward: Of course, not! I’m married. I wouldn’t do that.
Valerie: I hope not.
This was part of a calculated effort to soften Ed’s public image, but also part of an effort to portray Valerie not as a young 15-year-old sweetheart, but a 21-year-old married woman in order to placate the tabloid criticism of their “incompatibility.” Edward appeared edgy and defensive (and shown on television both smoking and drinking).
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