Ah, the joys of seeing David Lee Roth walk on stage with pants that had big holes to air out his butt cheeks… It gave me hope that nice Jewish boys COULD actually become Rock stars. Not this one, of course, but hope nonetheless.
Van Halen live was quite a show. Roth prowling the stage like a panther, with his trademark voice pops and screeches… Alex Van Halen on a rising drum platform… banging a gong of fire… and doing a double foot pedal drum solo I will never forget. Michael Anthony, with a bottle of Jack and going crazy on the bass, and of course the guitar majesty of Eddie Van Halen. This was my Rock n’ Roll… this was California Rock n’ Roll.
I saw them twice with Roth and once with Sammy Hagar… that last show was in Chicago with my buddy Barry, and Bachman Turner Overdrive was the opener… although we called them Bachman Turner Overweight. Seeing how much dysfunction has crept in is a bit sad, but I guess crazy egos and in-fighting is part of what makes it rock n’ roll.
Aside from amazing music and fantastic live shows, Van Halen gained notoriety for their infamous M&M contract rider… They stated that there must be a bowl of M&Ms in their dressing room, with all the brown ones removed. While this obviously came across as vein and them being prima donnas, the real reason behind it is quite smart… and I had no idea about until I read the Wikipedia page today. Good for them! Definitely check it out.
Van Halen first filled my ears courtesy of Jason Korfine’s boom box… that sounds like a great title for a show or movie! The cassette we started with… oh yeah, I said cassette… was this one…
Van Halen – Van Halen
To be honest, Van Halen II may have gotten more play, as we both loved the song “Beautiful Girls,” but let’s start here since this is the studio album that started it all. This is one of two Van Halen albums that hit Diamond status in sales… Not bad for some boys from Pasadena. I can tell you guitar sales rocketed after this came out, with a ton of teenagers wanting to play like Eddie. His sound, and Roth’s vocals were things I had never heard before. Hell, I don’t even really play but I STILL want a Frankenstrat (Eddie’s famous guitar).
This whole album keeps my head busy and my air guitar licks strong, but the stand out tracks for me are:
“Runnin’ With the Devil,” “Eruption,” the Kinks cover “You Really Got Me,” “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love,” “Jaime’s Cryin,” and “Ice Cream Man.” Lots of songs with slang apostrophes… What does that mean? It means a classic and one of the greatest rock albums of all time.