A band who was told they had no future that became a defining example of American Hard Rock.
“I used to jog but the ice cubes kept falling out of my glass.” – David Lee Roth
Van Halen rose to prominence during the late 1970’s wave of American Hard Rock bands that supplanted the dominance of the second wave of heavy and loud British Rock acts a decade earlier. Their strange beginnings and history goes something like this: Brothers Alex and Eddie Van Halen, immigrants whose family moved from the Netherlands to Pasadena in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles, were musically inclined, just like their father. Eddie was originally a drummer, paying for his first set with a paper route. Alex was a guitarist. While Eddie was out of the house, Alex would sneak and play his drum set. Upon discovering this, Eddie reportedly proclaimed that he could have the set and he would play Alex's guitar.
While still in their teens, they recruited a bass player, Mark Stone, and played neighborhood parties. The band alternately called themselves Genesis, Mammoth and the Trojan Rubber Company. Feeling they needed a lead singer, they auditioned many. David Lee Roth, the son of plastic surgeon, who was renting the band his sound system, eventually was chosen. He had auditioned previously and was rejected. The band simply didn’t wish to pay for the stage gear anymore.
Michael Anthony was recruited as bass player and the band started playing around the Los Angeles club scene, primarily centered in and around the Sunset Strip: Gazzarri’s, Starwood, The Whiskey, etc. Gene Simmons of KISS, who, along with Aerosmith, were arguably one of the biggest American hard bands of the era was invited to see the band by local music impresario Rodney Bingenheimer. Simmons recorded several demos with the band in 1976. Simmons gave up on the band after being told by KISS’s management Van Halen had no future.
Van Halen in their classic line-up, 1980. (l-r) David Lee Roth, Alex Van Halen, Eddie Van Halen and Michael Anthony. Photo by Norman Seef.
Ted Templeman, a veteran staff producer at Warner Brothers who had produced million-selling albums for Van Morrison and The Doobie Brothers, saw them live at a local club. Even though the crowd in attendance was small, within a week the label offered them a recording contract. Their debut would start a series of multi-million selling albums and catapult Van Halen into superstars. Their live shows, with the solid rhythm section of Michael and Alex, David with his outrageous and energetic front man schtick and vocal gymnastics and Eddie’s seemingly absolute mastery of the six string guitar made him his generation’s most influential guitarist.
By 1984, tensions between Eddie and David would cause the latter to leave the band for years, being replaced successfully with Sammy Hagar and unsuccessfully with Gary Cherone. David is back, and Eddie’s son Wolfgang now plays bass, replacing Michael Anthony. This show focuses on their glory years, 76-84, when they were simply untouchable. This program also focuses on loud, fast and heavy, so get ready to blow your speakers.
This program is presented in two options: standard audio and HQ audio. Please scroll below track listing to access streaming and download options for both.
Our tracks this week: Title, Year, Source
1. Unchained, 1981, Fair Warning
2. Ain’t Talking’ ‘Bout Love, 1978, Van Halen
3. Romeo Delight, 1980, Women and Children First
4. D.O.A., 1979, Van Halen II
5. Hang ‘Em High, 1982, Diver Down
6. On Fire, 1976, demo
7. The Full Bug, 1982, Diver Down
8. Light Up the Sky, 1979, Van Halen II
9. I’m The One, 1978, Van Halen
10. Sinners Swing, 1981, Fair Warning
11. Girl Gone Bad, 1984, 1984
12. Tora! Tora!/Loss of Control, 1980, Women and Children First
13. Let’s Get Rocking, 1976, demo (bootleg)
14. Hot For Teacher, 1984, 1984
Love to you all.
Ben “Bear” Brown Jr., owner
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