Van Halen’s Director of Security: “Ah, what these eyes have seen!”

Ed Anderson was director of security and David Lee Roth’s bodyguard from 1980-1984. “Big Ed” contributed to the hardcover photo book, Van Halen, by Neil Zlozower. has the exclusive on what he had to say about his amazing job:

“Ah, what these eyes have seen! I was there, brother, for the insane ’round-the-world ride that was 1980 through 1984. Van Halen were kings . . . no, GODS. We were Van Halen. We could do no wrong. The crazier we got, the more you loved us, and the more you loved us, the bigger we got. Nobody could improve on what we’d perfected. The Stones may have been a rock ’n’ roll circus but we were a rock ’n’ roll zoo. Animals with guitars. Wolves watching over the sheep. Creative chaos. We were the Jack Daniels Black Label of everything dangerous and desirous.

“I was director of security. My job description was simply one line: Protect the band. But taking care of David (I was his designated babysitter), Edward, Alex, and Michael was not always such a simple thing to do. I had to keep them safe when they were playing live. How did I know that the lunatic jumping on stage only wanted to sing along with Dave? I had to keep them out of harm’s way when they were back at the hotel, when they were partying, when they were traveling. Berserk fans. Jealous boyfriends. Sold-out shows. Drinking. Drugs. Women. I had to protect them from each other and from themselves.

“I could try and make you understand how it felt to wield this almost unlimited power. I could describe to you the most outrageously beautiful women in the world lining up outside your hotel room door. I could tell you about some of the things that happened. Or I could tell you about the time, after a major Van Halen backstage demolishing in Germany, how I had to scrape mustard, mayonnaise, butter, ketchup, relish and lunchmeats off a hospitality room ceiling because I was fucking starving and they had trashed every other edible morsel in sight. It wasn’t always about excess, mind you.

“Now, I could reveal a lot more about these escapades but then I’d have to beat the shit out of you. And that’s not good for me or you — mainly you.”

— Eddie Anderson

Big Ed’s story from the 1984 tour:

It’s the 1984 Van Halen tour, and the band is finishing things up in Dallas, Texas. At the same time, the Jacksons are starting up their Victory tour. These two concerts have two things in common. The first is that it will be the final tour for both bands, Van Halen because the band had been falling apart for some time, and the Jacksons because at the end of the tour, Michael Jackson announced that he would be quitting the band and going his own way. The second thing they had in common is that Edward Van Halen played the guitar in both, though he only played one night with the Jacksons, doing the guitar solo for “Beat It” on the opening night, just as he had for the song on Thriller. Before the show, Edward ensured his guitar was tuned to his particular playing style, which was not in the usual way. But when he came out onstage, he found that his guitar had been retuned to the style most common on the tour. As the guitar screeched out bad notes, Edward had to call on his discipline and talent to play a chord at a time until he got his tone back, on a whole different key than normal. From there he started playing his heart out, wowing the audience on a mistuned guitar. Was the guitar mistuned on purpose by a roadie hoping to build up his own band on the back of another, or was it just a mistake of the crew, thinking that the guitar had really been incorrectly set? Either way, Edward revealed true talent by winging it with a band he was not familiar with and a mistuned guitar.

—Eddie Anderson

Ed Anderson with Eddie Van Halen, 1981.