Van Halen

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Performers and composers

Van Halen

Background information
Origin Pasadena, California, USA
Genre(s) Hard rock
Years active 1974—present
Label(s) Warner Bros.
Website Official VH Website
Edward Van Halen
Wolfgang Van Halen
Alex Van Halen
Former members
David Lee Roth
Sammy Hagar
Gary Cherone
Michael Anthony

Van Halen is an American hard rock band. The band's first studio album, Van Halen, released in 1978 is commonly regarded as a milestone in rock music. With this first release, the band established itself as a leader in the emerging and commercially successful U.S. hard rock and heavy metal genres of the 1980s. In particular, the band's guitarist, Eddie Van Halen, quickly gained widespread fame for his technical prowess and musical sensibility. Almost overnight, he was touted as one of the most innovative and influential American rock and roll guitarists.

From 1978 to 1998 the band released 11 studio albums (all of which broke the Top 20 spot of the Billboard 200 music charts). The band has sold more than 75 million albums worldwide and has received several Grammy nominations. Van Halen is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records with the most number one hits on the Billboard Mainstream Rock List. According to the Recording Industry Association of America Van Halen is #19 on the list of Top Selling Artists of all time (having sold more than 56 million albums in the U.S.). Van Halen is one of seven rock groups that have had two albums sell more than 10 million copies in the U.S. (the others being: Led Zeppelin, Eagles, Pink Floyd, Metallica, Def Leppard, and The Beatles).

In addition to being recognized for their artistic contributions, commercial success and popularity, the band is known for drama surrounding the lead singer spot. Although the core instrumentalists and backing vocals have remained constant ( Eddie Van Halen, Alex Van Halen and Michael Anthony), the band has recorded studio albums with three different lead vocalists: David Lee Roth, Sammy Hagar and Gary Cherone. Each vocalist has departed (at least once) under cloudy circumstances. Following their 2004 concert tour the band was on hiatus until September 2006 when on the Howard Stern Show, Edward Van Halen confirmed that his son, Wolfgang was in the band and that they were recording new material. Michael Anthony has also stated that as of November 6, 2006, he was not invited to participate in any reunion activity.


Current Line-Up

  • Edward Van Halen - guitars, keyboards, backing vocals
  • Alex Van Halen - drums, percussion
  • Wolfgang Van Halen - bass, backing vocals
  • David Lee Roth - lead vocals

Past Members

  • Michael Anthony - bass, backing vocals
  • Sammy Hagar - lead vocals, rhythm guitar (1985-1996, 2004-2006)
  • Gary Cherone - lead vocals (1997-1999)

Band Line-ups

  • David Lee Roth - lead vocals
  • Eddie Van Halen - guitar
  • Michael Anthony - bass
  • Alex Van Halen - drums
(1985 - 1996)
  • Sammy Hagar - lead vocals
  • Eddie Van Halen - guitar
  • Michael Anthony - bass
  • Alex Van Halen - drums
(1996 - 1997)
  • David Lee Roth - lead vocals
  • Eddie Van Halen - guitar
  • Michael Anthony - bass
  • Alex Van Halen - drums
  • Gary Cherone - lead vocals
  • Eddie Van Halen - guitar
  • Michael Anthony - bass
  • Alex Van Halen - drums
(2004 - 2006)
  • Sammy Hagar - lead vocals
  • Eddie Van Halen - guitar
  • Michael Anthony - bass
  • Alex Van Halen - drums
  • David Lee Roth [rumored] - lead vocals
  • Eddie Van Halen - guitar
  • Wolfgang Van Halen - bass
  • Alex Van Halen - drums


The band was formed in 1974 and was originally called Mammoth. When they discovered that another local band was already using that name they decided on a new one. It was actually Roth who suggested Van Halen as the new name for the group. The Van Halen brothers initially didn't like the idea, but eventually warmed up to it. Roth stated in his autobiography, "I felt that the name Van Halen was like the name Santana, it had power to it."

The band became a staple act on California's Sunset Strip during the mid-1970s, consistently playing at well known clubs such as the Whisky a Go Go. In 1977 Gene Simmons, of the rock band KISS, saw one of Van Halen's shows and subsequently financed their first demo tape. Simmons wanted to change the band's name to Daddy Longlegs and had designed cover art (a daddy longlegs wearing a top hat), but the band disagreed and stuck with Van Halen.

(1978-1985) with David Lee Roth ("The Golden Years")

With Ted Templeman at the helm, the band moved into the studio and quickly recorded their first album. Simply titled Van Halen, the album was released to immediate commercial success, reaching #19 on the Billboard pop music charts. All of the tracks were laid down very quickly (about three weeks), with little over-dubbing or double tracking. Minor mistakes were left on the record and a very simple musical set-up was used to give the record an almost-live feel. After adding vocals, the album was essentially ready to be mixed. Despite the simple studio set-up, Van Halen featured innovations in musical technique, production, and arrangement.

The first album, one of rock's most commercially successful debuts, is widely regarded as one of the most influential rock albums ever produced. While it included original songs by the band, such as " Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love," " Eruption," and " Runnin' With The Devil," the album also featured covers of the Kinks' song "You Really Got Me" and John Brim's "Ice Cream Man." The band toured for nearly a year on the basis of Van Halen, establishing their reputation as a talented and exciting live band. The early chemistry of the band was based upon the interplay of Eddie Van Halen's technical wizardry and David Lee Roth's flamboyant antics (a contrast that would later erupt into full-blown conflict). They returned to the studio in 1979 for Van Halen II, similar in style to their debut. This album yielded the band's first hit single, the poppy "Dance The Night Away."

Over the next four years, the band alternated album releases and touring to increasing commercial and critical acclaim. By 1980, Van Halen was perhaps the world's most successful and influential hard rock band (a legacy the band sustained throughout their career; in 2000, VH1 cited Van Halen as #7 on their list, "100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock"). Their party-loving spirit and hard rocking anthem-like sound made them extremely popular with teenagers and the worst nightmare for parents. Their third album Women and Children First was released in 1980, further cementing Van Halen's status as an elite rock group with such loud and popular songs as " And The Cradle Will Rock" and " Everybody Wants Some!!". In 1981, during the recording of their fourth album, Fair Warning, tensions began to rise within the band. Eddie Van Halen's desire to experiment with more serious songs and complex structures was at odds with Roth's pop instincts and increasingly cartoonish, irony-laden persona. Although Roth (and producer Templeman) acquiesced to Eddie's wishes, Fair Warning was a relative sales disappointment, yielding no hit singles. The following album, Diver Down, featured a hit cover of Roy Orbison's classic rock and roll song " Oh, Pretty Woman". After a successful tour to support Diver Down, Van Halen became the highest paid music group for a single appearance, earning a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for their inebriated, $1 million, 90-minute set at the US Festival in 1983. (This record was eventually eclipsed in the 1990s.)

Van Halen's next album, 1984 (released on January 9, 1984) was their commercial and, many claim, artistic pinnacle. Recorded at Eddie Van Halen's newly built 5150 Studios, the album was also a breaking point for the original line-up. Keyboards, previously heard only rarely, were now fully integrated into the band's sound. The album's lead single, " Jump", featured a bouncy synthesizer hook and anthemic lyrics by Roth. "Jump" became the band's first and only #1 pop hit and resulted in the band's first Grammy nomination. The other huge hits off the album were "Panama," "I'll Wait," and "Hot For Teacher." Many of the songs also became major music videos on MTV, especially "Hot For Teacher," which featured a skimpily dressed model playing the part of elementary-school teacher and also school-age boys portraying younger versions of the band members. The video appealed to numerous teenage and college-aged males. The album 1984 was praised by critics and fans alike, peaking at #2 on the Billboard charts behind Thriller by Michael Jackson (Eddie Van Halen played the guitar solo on the hit song " Beat It," on that album). In the midst of their greatest commercial success and tour, the artistic and personal tensions between the musicians reached a breaking point. Roth was upset about Eddie Van Halen playing with artists and bands outside of the band, and Eddie was upset at Roth for his continuous flamboyant behaviour and cartoonish stage persona. Roth exited the band on April 1, 1985.

(1985-1996) with Sammy Hagar ("Van Hagar")

In search of a new lead singer, Eddie Van Halen first offered the position to Patty Smyth of Scandal, who turned down the offer. The band was then introduced to singer/guitarist/song-writer Sammy Hagar. Hagar (who sang lead vocals for the band Montrose in the early '70s) was at that time a solo artist coming off a very successful year (his 1984 album VOA had yielded the hit single "I Can't Drive 55'" that peaked at #26 on the pop charts). Late in 1985 Hagar agreed to join the band and a new era began for Van Halen.

The album 5150, released on March 24, 1986, was an immediate smash hit. Driven by the keyboard-dominated singles "Why Can't This Be Love?", " Dreams" and "Love Walks In," it became the band's first release to reach #1 on the Billboard album charts. Filled out with diverse songs ranging from the near thrash of "Get Up" and party rock of "Summer Nights" and "Good Enough," to the more introspective "Best Of Both Worlds" and an EVH guitar tour de force on the title track, 5150 is generally considered the strongest album of the "Hagar era."

The next ten years with Sammy Hagar were marked by two somewhat opposing trends: expansion of the band's commercial success amid increasing fan resentment over Roth's departure. Hagar's style enabled Van Halen to become accessible to a wider audience, with lyrics that were more conventional and refined. Eddie's keyboard work brought a wider variety of sonic textures within each song, and the production was altered toward the pop side, and the songs became longer: During the Roth era, Van Halen songs rarely stretched beyond three and a half minutes, and some albums struggled to cross the thirty minute mark, generally considered the minimum duration of a full length album; with Hagar, songs began to last more than five minutes. The result was markedly different from the hard charging, rollicking riffs of the group's earlier work, and Eddie's trademark guitar sound was now rarely heard without many digital effects. Die-hard "old Van Halen" fans referred derisively to the new "Van Hagar" sound as "soft" or "fluffy" compared with the raucous, raw sound of the Roth era. The sound of pop and hard rock coming together created a new sound for Van Halen, more pop oriented.

During Hagar's tenure, the band established a musical formula that proved commercially successful in the United States. All four studio albums produced during this period reached #1 on the Billboard pop music charts. Also during this time, 17 singles breached the top 12 of the mainstream rock tracks chart. In addition, Van Halen was nominated for two Grammy Awards, winning the 1991 Best Hard Rock Performance with Vocal award for the album For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. Van Halen continued to enjoy tremendous popular success throughout the mid-90's, while many other trends and bands fell from favour, overtaken by anti-establishment " Grunge Music."

During the recording of their contribution to the film Twister, escalating tension between Hagar and the Van Halen brothers boiled over publicly as Hagar departed on Father's Day, 1996. Hagar claimed that he was fired; Eddie Van Halen claimed that Hagar quit. The media storm surrounding the dramatic exit of Hagar helped him to immediately restart his solo career. However, the publicity wasn't helpful for Van Halen, only serving to shine a bright light on the vacant lead singer spot. The commercial success that Van Halen reached with Sammy Hagar set high expectations, and fans everywhere were watching and waiting for the band's next move.

(1996-1997) Reunion with David Lee Roth

Soon after Hagar's departure, David Lee Roth re-entered the studio with the Van Halen brothers, Michael Anthony, and producer Glen Ballard. Two songs from those sessions were added to the band's Greatest Hits album (with the Roth single "Me Wise Magic" reaching #1 on the mainstream rock chart; the album The Best Of Van Halen, Vol. 1 was #1 on the pop charts). However, Eddie and Alex were still auditioning other singers — among them unknown singer Mitch Malloy. Malloy would reveal years later that, during this time, Eddie had hired him for the job. By September, however, David Lee Roth and the rest of the band were asked to present an award at the 1996 MTV Video Music Awards. On September 4, 1996, the four original members of Van Halen made their first public appearance together in over eleven years, presenting an award at the 1996 MTV Video Music Awards. This appearance was greeted with a standing ovation, and fueled hopeful speculation for a reunion tour. However, old wounds were reopened; while doing backstage interviews with the media, Roth told Eddie not to talk about personal issues such as Eddie's hip replacement. According to Eddie, Roth was very rude and self-centered, causing the relationship between them to sour once again. Mitch Malloy revealed several years later that immediately after the awards, he told Eddie that he did not want to be the lead singer of Van Halen because the public appearance with Dave made it impossible for any other singer to be successful with the group. Several weeks after the awards show, the public and media became aware that Roth would not be reuniting with the band. At this time, Roth released a media statement where he apologized to the media and the fans, stating that he was an unwitting participant in a publicity stunt perpetrated by the Van Halens and Ray Daniels (their manager) in order to sell more copies of the Greatest Hits album. The next day, Eddie and Alex Van Halen released their own statement, stressing that they were completely honest with Roth and never led him to believe that he was guaranteed to be the next lead singer..

(1997-1999) with Gary Cherone

Continuing their search Van Halen approached former Little Angels singer Toby Jepson who declined and so the band recruited Gary Cherone, the frontman of the defunct Boston-based band Extreme. The result of their collaboration was the experimental Van Halen III. Many songs were longer and more ethereal ("Once"), more thought-provoking ("How Many Say I," with Eddie on vocals), or were just plain different ("From Afar," "Josephina"). These changes alienated many existing Van Halen fans who were followers of Roth's and Hagar's hard rock sound while failing to attract a new audience. Sales were lackluster compared to those of previous albums — yet the VHIII album peaked at #4 on the charts (it was Gold certified), and produced a #1 Mainstream Rock Track hit, "Without You". However, no tracks from the album ever appeared on the pop music charts. A left over track entitled "That's Why I Love You" found its way onto the internet, leaving fans to wonder why it didn't make the album. Van Halen also contributed a song to the Lethal Weapon 4 soundtrack with the title "Fire In The Hole."

In early 1999, the band started work on the follow up to III with Cherone on vocals, rumored working title to be "Love Again". Working titles of demo tracks included "Left for Dead," "River Wide," "Say Uncle," "You Wear it Well," "More Than Yesterday," "I Don't Miss You...Much," "Love Divine," and "From Here, Where Do We Go?". However, the album was not completed and Cherone left the band amicably in November 1999.

(2000-2004) Four years of silence

From 2000 to early 2004, no albums were released and no official information was provided to fans about the future of the band. However, information about individual members, past and present, trickled in. Some highlights:

  • During 2000, the band secretly started working with David Lee Roth, a number of new tracks were worked on at 5150. However, Roth and the band fell out yet again and no new material was released.
  • In 1999, Eddie Van Halen reluctantly had hip replacement surgery (when the pain became unbearable). He also underwent cancer treatment soon after (at the Mayo Clinic) and announced his complete recovery on the official website in May 2002.
  • On October 15, 2001, Eddie and his wife of 21 years, actress Valerie Bertinelli, separated. The couple filed for divorce on December 8, 2005. Eddie keeps out of the public eye but appears at the LAPD charity golf tournament during May 2001. His only live performances during this period were joining Mountain on stage for a rendition of "Never in My Life" in August 2002, and a private audience jam at NAMM January 2003. Eddie only gave one official interview, with Maximum Golf Magazine, in July 2001.
  • Alex Van Halen continued to work with his brother on new material at their 5150 recording studio.
  • In 2002, Warner Bros. dropped Van Halen (still without a lead singer) from the label, after having released all of their albums since 1978.
  • Since his departure in 1985, David Lee Roth produced a number of albums and toured with his DLR band (his most recent release being an album of covers called Diamond Dave (2003)). In 2003, Roth brought a court action against Van Halen, their management, and record company claiming he was left out of 1996 royalty renegotiations. On July 4, 2004, Roth performed with the Boston Pops at Boston's annual Pops Goes the Fourth celebration. As of 2005, he has become a certified EMT, and as of January 2006, has replaced Howard Stern on several of Stern's terrestrial radio markets. He has since been let go from this position due to low ratings.
  • Sammy Hagar has remained active musically. Since his departure from Van Halen, he has released five albums. He also created his own merchandising brand Cabo Wabo, which lends its name to his popular line of tequila, as well as his franchise of cantinas located in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and Lake Tahoe, Nevada. In addition, he reunited with the original members of his '70s band Montrose in 2003 and 2005 for a handful of performances. Hagar also maintains a good relationship with Michael Anthony and the two often play together.
  • Michael Anthony stays busy outside of Van Halen with various product merchandising projects (such as his signature Yamaha bass) and has a website. He is involved with the annual music industry NAMM Show.
  • Anthony has also released a statement on his official website denying rumors that he has been sacked by Van Halen.
  • Since his departure from Van Halen, Gary Cherone recorded an album and performed locally with his new band Tribe of Judah.
  • In the summer of 2002, David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar teamed up for the Song For Song, the Heavyweight Champs of Rock and Roll tour (known tongue-in-cheek as the 'Sans-Halen' or 'Sam & Dave' Tour). It succeeded beyond expectations, drawing large crowds to outdoor auditoriums. In an interview, Roth contrasted his personality with Hagar's, saying "He's the kind of guy you go out with to split a bottle with a friend. I'm the kind of guy you go out with if you want to split your friend with a bottle." During that tour, Michael Anthony guested with Hagar's solo band, The Waboritas, but never played with Roth. Hagar released a live album (Hallelujah), which featured Mike (a few songs) and Gary (one song), and a documentary DVD, Long Road to Cabo, chronicling his tour with David Lee Roth.
  • During January 2003, the VHND (Van Halen News Desk) website reported a rumour that Sammy Hagar was secretly working with the band.

(2004-2005) Reunion with Sammy Hagar

In late March 2004, Van Halen and Sammy Hagar announced that Hagar would reunite with the band for a Greatest Hits album release and a summer concert tour.

In July 2004, Van Halen released their second Greatest Hits compilation, featuring three new songs with Hagar: "It's About Time", "Up For Breakfast", and "Learning to See." Again, public reaction to the new songs was mixed. The track list had changed since its unveiling, and now Hagar and Roth songs alternated instead of one disc for each singer; a disappointing strategy for fans who prefer (often strongly) one singer over the other. No VHIII songs made it onto the disc. Nevertheless, Van Halen's second Greatest Hits record would be certified platinum in August 2004.

The summer tour grossed 55 million dollars, and Pollstar listed Van Halen in the top 10 grossing tours of 2004. Most of the concerts received positive feedback from professional reviewers. However, serious problems surfaced. Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony would subsequently admit that Eddie Van Halen had problems with alcohol during the tour that affected everyone involved. Hagar stated that he was "done with Van Halen" and wished that everyone would have "taken it more seriously." It was also revealed in Rolling Stone magazine that promoters had lost money on the tour. Many fans complained that tickets were overpriced (sometimes exceeding $200), and only some shows were actually sold out. Reports of Eddie being drunk and playing poorly also circulated.

After the tour ended, Van Halen once again disappeared. Hagar returned to his solo band The Waboritas, and Anthony appeared with him on tour occasionally. Eddie's collaboration with Peavey ended (for his signature 5150 guitar amplifier series, replaced with the 6505 amp, and Eddie is now endorsing Charvel, which is reissuing the EVH classic guitar models). As for 2005, no announcements had been made about the future of the band.

In August 2005, Van Halen sued the Baltimore Orioles, claiming that the Orioles reneged on a deal to bring the band to Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 2, 2004, which would have been the first concert at the otherwise baseball-only facility.

On October 7, 2005, newsletter Popbitch reported that Van Halen would be seeking a new lead singer via a reality TV show similar to INXS's Rock Star: INXS. Although several other news sources picked up this story, eventually it turned out to be nothing more than a false rumor.

(Dec 2005 - Present) The Future of Van Halen

December 22, 2005: Michael Anthony reveals during a radio interview with Mark & Brian that the band is yet again on hiatus and that he hasn't spoken to the Van Halen brothers for some time. He won't be drawn into any detailed questions regarding Eddie's sub-par performances on the 2004 tour or on the guitarist's plans for the future.

January 3, 2006: David Lee Roth reveals during an interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he spoke to Alex Van Halen the previous week and a reunion with Van Halen is "inevitable". Moreover, Roth states in an interview with the Cleveland Plain Dealer that he also has spoken to Eddie Van Halen recently, though he says "Eddie's off in his own world."

January 21, 2006: Roth talks about the songs he recorded with Van Halen in 2000 during his radio show. He hints he has copies of the tracks and threatens to play them on the air.

February 2006: A new Eddie Van Halen interview appears in the February edition of Hit Parader. He isn't asked any direct questions regarding the future of Van Halen but admits he was "satisfied" with the 2004 reunion tour. Asked if any problems occurred with Sammy Hagar during the tour he answers, "Sammy is Sammy, and for the most part that's just fine with me."

February 13, 2006: Various news and music Web sites report that Van Halen is indeed the band to be featured in a new TV series called Rockstar: The Series. The band's publicist, Larry Solters, is quoted as saying, "I'm not denying it. I'm not going to answer any questions about it."

February 15, 2006: The New York Daily News runs a story with several quotes from Roth regarding a Van Halen reunion. "People want the reunion," Roth said. "No one will pay respect to what any of us do [musically] until we get the reunion out of the way." "Once Eddie (Van Halen) does that, everything else he does can be seen with a fresh eye."

March 6, 2006: An exclusive and revealing Michael Anthony interview appeared in the Japanese rock magazine Burrn!. Some of the highlights included

  • The Van Halen brothers did not want Anthony to take part in the 2004 reunion tour.
  • Anthony also received far less money than the rest of the band during the tour.
  • Eddie Van Halen had issues with Hagar selling Cabo Wabo products at Van Halen's 2004 shows.
  • The band had tried on three occasions to make a record with Roth.
  • During one reunion attempt, Roth wanted the band to play music similar to The Chemical Brothers.
  • Anthony did not play bass on any of the three new songs on The Best of Both Worlds compilation.
  • Anthony hasn't spoken to Eddie Van Halen since the 2004 tour, though he has spoken to Alex Van Halen at the funeral for Greg Emerson, a Van Halen drum tech.

May 26, 2006: Roth, interviewed by, again insists a Classic Van Halen reunion will happen saying "I see it absolutely as an inevitability," and "There's contact between the two camps".

June 3, 2006: Anthony and Hagar begin a summer tour, playing without the Van Halens.

June 19, 2006: Edward and Alex Van Halen appear onstage with Kenny Chesney at the Home Depot Centre and perform Jump and You Really Got Me. This is the first appearance of the brothers onstage together since November 2004.

July 19, 2006: Edward makes an appearance at the House of Petals in Los Angeles, playing mostly new material.

July 27, 2006: News breaks that Eddie will be releasing brand new music, albeit in an unusual fashion. Michael Ninn, the acclaimed adult entertainment director, has teamed up with Eddie to produce two songs for Ninn's upcoming film, Sacred Sin. The tunes do not feature any other members of Van Halen.

September 8, 2006: Howard Stern hosts a live interview with Edward Van Halen, the highlights were

  • Eddie's son Wolfgang, (who can play guitar, drums and sings) is now in Van Halen and Eddie says Michael Anthony can do whatever he wants.
  • Eddie is open to a reunion with Roth.
  • Eddie is about to embark on a solo album.
  • Eddie claims he cured the cancer in his tongue by means that are "illegal" in this country. There has been some speculation that crystal meth was the means he used. Further, Eddie claims that cigarettes did not cause his tongue cancer, and so despite having had a third of his tongue removed, he continues to smoke.

September 11, 2006: Eddie Van Halen announced he was considering a reunion with David Lee Roth, as Roth previously stated it is inevitable to happen. Michael Anthony's part in this reunion is still undecided, as it was announced that he isn't in Van Halen anymore. :

October 25, 2006: Melodicrock website announces that there are plans for a tour with David Lee Roth on vocals. No information in regards to Mike Anthony's status for the tour. Though Melodicrock has in the past reported things that were later proven untrue, they were also the first voice to announce Van Halen's reunion with Sammy Hagar, giving this announcement some creditability.

October 30, 2006: Van Halen and R.E.M. lead the ballot for induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame this year. It's the first time on the ballot for both acts, though Van Halen has been eligible for a few years.

November 6, 2006: G4's TheFeed reports that Eddie Van Halen's spokesperson Janie Liszewski has revealed that VAN HALEN is currently writing and rehearsing for a summer 2007 tour. In addition, Liszewski has confirmed that Eddie's son Wolfgang has officially been named the new bassist in the band, replacing Michael Anthony. This was also confirmed on Billboard magazines website on November 9th. Van Halen's official website has not confirmed any of these statements, rendering them unofficial until the band itself makes an announcement in regards to their authenticity.

In 2008, it will be the 30th anniversary of the band's debut album.

Influence on culture, music and business

The David Lee Roth era remains Van Halen's most critically successful period, having influenced many eighties rock musicians who followed. The band's top selling albums to date are their 1978 debut and 1984. Both albums have reached diamond status, having sold over 10 million copies each, and are both regarded as milestones in rock and roll music, ushering in artistic innovations that were widely emulated throughout the 1980s (The Van Halen track "Runnin' with the Devil" and 1984's "Jump" are listed as two of the top 500 most influential songs in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame). The band's second and third productions, Van Halen II and Women and Children First, each reached #6 on the charts. After this, every subsequent Van Halen album would breach the top 5 spot on the pop charts.

The Van Halen track " Eruption" introduced the rock and roll world to a new soloing technique called tapping, a technique utilizing both left and right hands on the guitar neck (tapping also exists and did for a long time in its more traditional one-handed form, involving just hammer-ons and pull-offs). Other musicians had developed two-hand playing techniques during the 1950s, and Steve Hackett of Genesis used tapping extensively in the early 1970s, but Van Halen's technique was something else — a percussive, highly amplified barrage of notes and effects. Nothing like it had ever been heard on record. "Eruption" immediately propelled Eddie Van Halen to immense heights of popularity among guitar players worldwide (articles about Eddie Van Halen's style and technique remain a staple of guitar magazines). Before the release of the first album, Eddie would hide his technique from imitators by playing his solos with his back to the audience. A music critic praised "Eruption" once for its powerful impact and compact musical structure, by labelling it "The Soundtrack to World War III".

Eddie also introduced a never before seen technique in the instrumental "Cathedral". This technique involved Eddie hammering notes on the fretboard with his left hand while simultaneously rolling the volume knob off and on with his right hand. He did two takes, and the volume knob froze completely at the end of the second take due to the heat generated from rolling it on and off at such a great speed. Many beginning hard rock and heavy metal bands of the era have testified that, when trying out new guitarists, being able to cover the song was often the audition criteria asked of the guitarist.

Van Halen also introduced the guitar world to the band's signature "Brown Sound," a nickname given to, among other things, the sonic result of Eddie's guitar/amp combination and technique. With Templeman's warm production, Van Halen produced a distinctive tone sought by other musicians.

As the band began to make music videos for MTV, the telegenic Roth became the visual focus, often to the chagrin of the other band members. Music videos for the singles Jump, Panama, and Hot For Teacher, were wildly popular and became part of the standard rotation on the then fledgling MTV.

The second incarnation of Van Halen also saw broadened use of the Van Halen brand, as they expanded their reach into other media, with high-production films, live concert footage, and even their own cantina in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. If David Lee Roth's innovative, over-the-top style turned Van Halen from a member of the hard rock pack to its leader, Hagar's more conservative 'working man' persona turned Van Halen into a franchise and an icon.

The hit single and award-winning video Right Now ( For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, 1991) was used to promote the ill-fated soft-drink Crystal Pepsi. The band's Roth-era remake of The Kinks song You Really Got Me was used in a Nissan commercial.

Van Halen pioneered the way for the modern "Rock and Roll Show" with their extensive use of the concert technical contract rider. Although contract riders had existed before, Van Halen's use of them to specify the band's "wish list" (stage, production, transportation, personal requirements, etc.) was new and established a standard practice that is now used routinely throughout the music industry. As one of the first major bands with a full stage show to appear in many smaller cities, Van Halen had an extensive set of technical and logistical requirements including power availability and stage construction details that a venue had to comply with. Many venues in these markets had not previously dealt with such a large-scale show, and were not equipped to handle Van Halen's massive stage and light show, sometimes resulting in damage to the band's equipment and the venue, once nearly killing a roadie setting up the instruments. The band's demands were not limited to technical issues: their now infamous contract rider specified that, among other personal needs, a bowl of M&M candies, with all of the brown ones removed, was to be available in the band's dressing room. According to David Lee Roth (from his autobiography, Crazy from the Heat), this was not due to an antipathy for brown chocolate candy, but rather was listed with the technical portion of the contract in order to check up on whether venue management and technical staff were correctly reading through, checking, and honoring the technical and safety provisions set in the contract. On arrival, if brown M&M's were found in the dressing room, then the band had reason to believe other parts of the contract were also not being fulfilled, and subsequently, every line of the contract was to be double-checked, to ensure safety prior to and during the show. Some shows were cancelled because of a venue's inability to handle the band's stage or equipment safely.

Influential American punk trio The Minutemen recorded a 40-second cover version of "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love" for their landmark double album Double Nickels on the Dime (only the third verse, a guitar solo and the "hey, hey, hey!" outro were used) - an irony considering that, according to Roth, the song originated as an affectionate parody of punk rock when it was first written.

Rapper Tone Loc used uncredited samples from Van Halen's "Jamie's Cryin'" extensively on his hit "Wild Thing," but was not sued by the band; in Alex Van Halen's words, "It was 1987, who knew?" 2 Live Crew later sampled the riff of "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love" for their song "The Fuck Shop" on their infamous 1989 album As Nasty As They Wanna Be; Van Halen sued the band for copyright infringement; the suit was settled out of court. Dance music act Apollo 440 sampled the guitar intro from "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love" for their 1997 single entitled "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Dub".

Van Halen is ranked #7 on VH1's "100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock". Eddie Van Halen is also ranked #70 on Rolling Stone Magazine's list of 100 Greatest Guitarists of Rock and Roll. The solo in "Eruption" was also voted #2 on Guitar World magazine's 100 Greatest Guitar Solos.


Studio albums and EPs

Year Title Notes
1978 Van Halen
1979 Van Halen II First Top 20 Hit "Dance The Night Away"
1980 Women and Children First
1981 Fair Warning
1982 Diver Down
1983 1984 Grammy Award Nomination: Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group ("Jump"). Jump reached #1 on Billboard Charts; stayed for 5 weeks
1986 5150 First album with Sammy Hagar on vocals. First Billboard #1 album
1988 OU812
1991 For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge Grammy Award Win: Best Hard Rock Performance (For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge)
1995 Balance Grammy Award Nomination: Best Hard Rock Performance ("The Seventh Seal")
1998 Van Halen III First and only album with Gary Cherone on vocals.

Live album

Year Title Notes
1993 Live: Right Here, Right Now Featuring Sammy Hagar vocals


Year Title Notes
1996 Best of Volume I Featuring two new songs with David Lee Roth
2004 The Best of Both Worlds Featuring three new songs with Sammy Hagar


Year Title Notes
1986 Van Halen - Live Without a Net
1993 Van Halen: Right Here, Right Now - Live
1996 Van Halen: Video Hits, Vol. 1

Soundtrack contributions

Year Title Notes
1984 The Wild Life Track 1 is an instrumental by Edward Van Halen entitled "Donut City"
1996 Twister Featuring "Humans Being" with Sammy Hagar, as well as the Edward & Alex instrumental "Respect the Wind"
1998 Lethal Weapon 4


Eruption was also the name of a tune by ELP on their album Tarkus.


Year Title US Hot 100 US Mainstream Rock UK singles Album
1978 You Really Got Me 36 - - Van Halen
1978 Runnin' With The Devil 84 - - Van Halen
1978 Jamie's Cryin' - - - Van Halen
1978 Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love - - - Van Halen
1979 Dance the Night Away 15 - - Van Halen II
1979 Beautiful Girls 84 - - Van Halen II
1980 And The Cradle Will Rock... 55 - - Women and Children First
1981 So This Is Love? - 15 - Fair Warning
1982 (Oh) Pretty Woman 12 1 - Diver Down
1982 Dancing In The Street 38 3 - Diver Down
1982 Secrets - 22 - Diver Down
1984 Jump 1 - 7 1984
1984 I'll Wait 13 - - 1984
1984 Panama 13 - - 1984
1984 Hot For Teacher 56 34 1984
1986 Why Can't This Be Love 3 1 8 5150
1986 Dreams 22 6 32 5150
1986 Love Walks In 22 4 - 5150
1988 When It's Love 5 1 - OU812
1988 Black And Blue 34 1 - OU812
1988 Finish What Ya Started 13 2 28 OU812
1988 Cabo Wabo - 31 - OU812
1989 Feels So Good 35 6 63 OU812
1991 Top of The World 27 1 63 For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge
1991 Runaround - 1 - For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge
1991 Poundcake - 1 - For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge
1992 The Dream Is Over - 7 - For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge
1992 Right Now 55 2 - For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge
1992 Man On Mission - 21 - For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge
1993 Jump (Live) - - 26 Live: Right Here, Right Now
1993 Won't Get Fooled Again - 1 - Live: Right Here, Right Now
1995 Seventh Seal - 36 - Balance
1995 Not Enough 97 27 - Balance
1995 Don't Tell Me (What Love Can Do) - 1 27 Balance
1995 Can't Stop Lovin' You 30 2 - Balance
1995 Amsterdam - 9 - Balance
1996 Me Wise Magic - 1 - Best of Volume I
1996 Humans Being - 1 - Best of Volume I
1997 Can't Get This Stuff No More - 12 - Best of Volume I
1998 Without You - 1 - Van Halen III
1998 One I Want - 27 - Van Halen III
1998 Fire In The Hole - 6 - Van Halen III
2004 Up For Breakfast - 33 - The Best of Both Worlds
2004 It's About Time - 6 - The Best of Both Worlds
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