This week’s “All Access” Photo is a never-seen stage shot taken during a surprise snowstorm at the Fiddler’s Green in Denver, Colorado. It was Sept 20th, 1995, (during Van Halen’s Balance tour) and the unusual weather was what made this concert so different from the typical amphitheater shows that the band played throughout the summer.
Van Halen’s lighting man during the tour, Chris Stuba, described that crazy night as one of the “most unusual and most memorable outdoor shows the band has ever done.” From our interview with Chris (conducted in 1996 for The Inside magazine) here’s what he said about this special night:
“I will never forget the snowstorm in Denver. It was outrageous. First, let me say that just a couple of days earlier, we were in some city where it was 106°. When we got to Denver, it was cold and rainy. By 9:00 AM, it started snowing. Nobody in their wildest dreams thought it would snow – it was September! But it kept coming down. Out in the crowd, [at Fiddlers Green] there was no cover over the pavilion area. We were very worried. There was a point, around 3:00, when we didn’t know if the show was going to happen. Equipment could get seriously damaged. It was miserable. Finally, the band said, ‘All these people have been out in the snow for three hours – we can do it!'”
“During the show, things got a little hairy. But we just had to laugh. We had snowball fights with the guys on the back-line. Even the band was getting into it and it was packing snow. All you have to do is scrape it off your shoulders.
“We had to make the best of it. The band made it easy because they had a great time with it. Even the guys on the crew who have been around for ten or fifteen years that it was the most unusual and most memorable outdoor show they had ever done. We ended up with nine inches on the ground! Thankfully, nothing went wrong and nobody got hurt.
Was the crowd miserable?
“No! That was the best part about it. The crowd made the whole thing great. Nobody expected it and they certainly weren’t dressed for it. Wally, our merchandising guy, did slamming business – they were buying everything in sight. I have some friends who were out in the middle of it. They said it was the most incredible concert experience of their lives. The whole crowd bonded because they were all going through the same thing. Eddie’s guitar got drilled by a snowball and he started firing them back. Sammy slipped on his ass. I’d love to see the band’s video tape of the show!”
Incidentally, there was something beside the weather that was unique about this show. The young boy featured on the cover of Balance lived in Denver, and was brought on stage partway through the show and introduced to the crowd. (No, that’s not Wolfgang Van Halen on the cover, as the long-standing rumor says).
“All Access” Photos is a weekly feature at VHND.com. Every weekend we feature a photo from a roadie, friend, or band insider. Many are never-seen-before exclusives. Tune in every weekend for more!