Very sad news in the world of Van Halen today.
Van Halen’s original bass player, Mark Stone, has passed away from cancer. We’ve heard from his wife that, sadly, he’s been in hospice recently. Then today, the news of his death has been confirmed by his brother on Instagram.
Mark’s history with Van Halen goes way back to 1972… which you could say was the year of the birth of the earliest form of the band.
In 1972, a musical trio called Genesis began their world conquest, playing high school gigs, backyard parties, weddings, wet t-shirt contests, and everywhere in between. The group was comprised of Eddie Van Halen on guitar, Alex Van Halen on drums, and Mark Stone on bass.
As the band’s popularity grew, they changed their name to Mammoth, and with a repertoire in excess of two hundred songs, became the party band of southern California. One of the regular fixtures at many outdoor gigs was the police, often resorting to bringing in helicopters to break up gigs, as kids from every corner came to catch a show, much to the dismay of the hosting neighborhood. Before the Van Halen lineup that came to worldwide fame in 1978, there was Mammoth, consisting of Eddie as both lead singer and guitarist, Alex was the drummer, and Mark Stone on bass.
Roughly a year after the band formed in ’72, David Lee Roth was hired as the lead singer. The four members eventually agreed to go with Dave’s idea to change the name to Van Halen.
So, for a period of time, Van Halen was Mark, Alex, Eddie and Dave. At some point in 1974, Mark Stone parted, and Michael Anothony was hired as the bass player.
Mark described what led to him leaving Van Halen: “I was a straight ‘A’ student, and doing the band, and I was split between these two things, and basically I couldn’t keep up with them.
“We met one day, and they actually asked me to leave. For a long time it was really tough. It was really tough leaving that band because I knew they were destined for greatness.
“They say, ‘Don’t leave before the miracle happens.’ And I did.”
RIP Mark Stone. Our condolences go out to his wife and family.
You can watch Mark Stone reminisce about his days in Mammoth and Van Halen in the 2003 documentary The Van Halen Story: The Early Years, embedded below:
The book ‘Van Halen Rising’ goes into a lot of detail about the era of Mammoth/Van Halen with Mark Stone.