From Green Bay Press Gazette:
Bring on the icons.
In typical fashion, the closing night of Rock USA at Ford Festival Park in Oshkosh will feature a performance by one of rock’s greatest legends: Van Halen. Following in the footsteps of 2011’s Saturday night headliner KISS and 2012’s Saturday night headliner Kid Rock, Van Halen will carry the capstone torch for Rock USA in 2013.
Though lineup changes have been common for the oft-dysfunctional Van Halen through the years, the current tour brings back the more classic cast of David Lee Roth, Eddie Van Halen, Alex Van Halen and Wolfgang Van Halen (who replaced original bassist Michael Anthony). Known for their influence in the late ’70s and ’80s, Van Halen reached superstardom with the release of “1984” (released in 1983) with hits such as “Hot For Teacher,” “Panama” and “Jump.” The Roth-fronted album led to what would be decades of Van Halen fame, whether he was in the band or not (Sammy Hagar or Gary Cherone, anyone?).
Nonetheless, to celebrate Van Halen’s greatness (and turbulence) over the past 35 years, here are 10 memorable moments in its history.
1. The record deal
Van Halen signed with Warner Bros in 1978 and released their eponymous debut album, which featured one of their early hits, “Runnin’ With the Devil.” Within six months of the release, “Van Halen” went platinum behind Eddie Van Halen’s revolutionary guitar playing and David Lee Roth’s antics. And so the story begins.
2. Eddie Van Halen solos on “Beat It”
Michael Jackson’s mid-’80s smash “Beat It” had a little help from guitar virtuoso Eddie Van Halen. Van Halen cut the song’s famous guitar solo as a favor to producer Quincy Jones. It took 30 minutes to record.
3. A No. 1 hit
Van Halen’s “1984” album produced hits such as “Hot For Teacher” and “Panama,” but none more successful than their first No. 1 hit, “Jump.” The synthesizer-led rock jam blended pop and arena rock and launched Van Halen into a more mainstream light. The hits from that album became staples in the early days of MTV.
4. Roth is a just a solo gigolo
In the mid-’80s, tension between Van Halen members led to David Lee Roth’s departure from the band. Testing non-Van Halen waters, Roth released his solo EP, “Crazy from the Heat,” in 1985. It contained two remakes: the Beach Boys’ “California Girls” and Louis Prima’s “I’m Just a Gigolo/I Ain’t Got Nobody.” Both became hits for Roth.
5. Blonde out, Red in
A Roth-less Van Halen refused to crumble, especially after the success the band had with “1984.” Instead of weeping over the loss of Roth, Van Halen recruited Red Rocker Sammy Hagar as their new frontman. Van Halen (or as many called it, Van Hagar) went on to have incredible commercial success with their albums, including 1986’s “5150” and 1991’s “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge.” The band had numerous hits with Hagar including “Why Can’t This Be Love,” “Finish What Ya Started” and “Love Walks In.”
6. Good run, Sammy
After much success with Van Halen, Hagar departed from the band in the mid-’90s. In a Gannett Wisconsin Media interview last year, Hagar shared one of his favorite dysfunctional moments with the group.
“The one beautiful dysfunction in Van Halen is that Ed and Al, the two brothers, fight like cats and dogs,” Hagar said. “Those two guys, you walk into the studio and they’re going at it and you come in and you start trying to figure out what they’re fighting about. Then you find out and you get in the middle of it and next thing you know, they team up and turn on you and you’re like, whoa, hold on here.’’ (Laughs)
Hagar reunited with Van Halen in the early Millennium, but for a much shorter stint.
7. The Third Singer
In 1996, Van Halen watched Hagar walk away from the band, but then reunited with Roth, only to see Diamond Dave leave again. This led to Van Halen picking up its third, and lowest-profile singer, Gary Cherone, formerly of Extreme. Cherone didn’t last long. He split after 1998’s “Van Halen III” only went gold, a dismal performance by Van Halen standards.
8. 10 million albums sold
In 1999, Van Halen’s famed “1984” album received diamond certification from the RIAA for 10 million copies sold. This has nothing to do with Roth’s nickname of Diamond Dave. But it does have a nice ring to it.
9. New lineup, sort of
In 2007, the same year Van Halen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the band announced they were reuniting with Roth for a world tour. This brought the original Van Halen crew back together with one exception. Eddie Van Halen’s son, Wolfgang, would replace original Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony. Good thing there’s not a lead singer in the family or Roth also might have been out of luck.
10. A different kind of truth
Van Halen went back in the studio with Roth to create 2012’s “A Different Kind of Truth.” The album hit the rock charts in favorable fashion and led to a hyped tour, but it derailed as the band postponed and then canceled some of the summer and fall dates, including one in Green Bay.
— Mike Thiel writes for Post-Crescent Media of Appleton. firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @foxcitieshub