Ebay Tags: Little Guitars, Van Halen, Diver Down, 1982
Van Halen is an American hard rock band formed in Pasadena, California, in 1972. Its 1978 debut album, Van Halen featuring guitarist Eddie Van Halen, vocalist David Lee Roth, drummer Alex Van Halen, and bassist Michael Anthony is widely considered to be among the most "original" and "revolutionary" albums to "change rock and roll."
According to the Recording Industry Association of America, Van Halen is the 19th best-selling band/artist in United States history, with sales of over 56 million albums in the U.S. and over 86 million albums worldwide, (with the band's former record company, Warner Bros. Records, last certifying Van Halen's albums in 2004.) Van Halen is one of only five rock bands that have had two albums sell more than 10 million copies in the U.S. Additionally, Van Halen has had the most #1 hits in the history of Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart.
In addition to Van Halen's many popular songs, the band is known for the drama surrounding the exits of former members. The multiple exits of lead singers David Lee Roth, Sammy Hagar and Gary Cherone were surrounded in controversy and press coverage, including numerous conflicting press statements between the former singers and the band.
Following their 2004 concert tour the band was on a hiatus from the public until September 2006, when new bassist Wolfgang Van Halen's place was confirmed and Roth reunion rumors began to re-surface, both events coinciding with the band's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction on March 12, 2007. After years of speculation, Van Halen began a tour with Roth across North America in 2007 and into 2008. On December 26, 2011, Van Halen announced a tour for 2012, and released their first album in 14 years, A Different Kind of Truth, on February 7, 2012.
Born in Nijmegen, Netherlands, Eddie Van Halen and Alex Van Halen are the sons of musician Jan Van Halen, who arranged for them to have music lessons. The Van Halen brothers started playing music together in the 1960s when Eddie played classical piano and later drums, and Alex played the guitar. While Eddie was delivering newspapers on his paper route, Alex would sneak over and play on Eddie's drumset. Eventually Eddie found out about Alex playing his drum set and was so frustrated that he told Alex, "OK, I'll go play your guitar."
In 1972 the Van Halen brothers formed a band called "Genesis" featuring Eddie as lead vocalist/guitarist, Alex on drums, and Mark Stone on bass. They initially rented a sound system from David Lee Roth but decided to save money by letting him join as lead vocalist even though his previous audition(s) had been unsuccessful. By 1974 the band decided to replace Stone, so Michael Anthony, bassist and lead vocalist from local band "Snake" was auditioned. Following an all-night jam session, he was hired for bass and backing vocals.
The band later changed its name to Mammoth when they discovered the name "Genesis" was already being used. In 1974, Mammoth officially changed its name to Van Halen. According to Roth, this was his brainchild. He felt it was a name that had power, like Santana. They played backyard parties and on a flatbed truck at Hamilton Park.
Van Halen played clubs in Pasadena and Hollywood to growing audiences, increasing their popularity through self-promotion: before each gig they would pass out fliers at local high schools. This soon built them a major following. Later that year, the band got its first break when it was hired to play at Gazzarri's, a formerly famous but down-at-the-heels night club on the Sunset Strip which closed in 1996.
Earlier, they had auditioned for the owner, Bill Gazzarri, but he claimed they were "too loud", and would not hire them. But their new managers, Mark Algorri and Mario Miranda, who had coincidentally taken over Gazzarri's hiring, did the deal. Shortly afterwards, they recorded their first demo tape at the now defunct Cherokee Ranch Studios in Northridge where Steely Dan recently had completed an album. Van Halen became a staple of the Los Angeles music scene during the mid-1970s, playing at well-known clubs like the Whisky a Go Go.
According to a January 4, 1977, L.A. Times article entitled HOMEGROWN PUNK by Robert Hilburn, Rodney Bingenheimer saw Van Halen at the Gazzarri club in the summer of 1976, so he took Gene Simmons of Kiss to see Van Halen. Gene Simmons then produced a Van Halen demo tape with recording beginning at the Village Recorder studios in Los Angeles and finished with overdubs at the Electric Lady Studios in New York. Simmons wanted to change the band's name to "Daddy Longlegs", but the band stuck with Van Halen. Simmons then opted out of further involvement after he took the demo to Kiss management and was told that "they had no chance of making it" and that they wouldn't take them.
In mid-1977 Mo Ostin and Ted Templeman of Warner Bros. Records saw Van Halen perform at the Starwood in Hollywood. Although the audience was small, the two were so impressed with Van Halen that within a week they offered the band a recording contract. The group recorded their debut album at Sunset Sound Recorders studio in mid September to early October 1977, recording guitar parts for one week and then recording vocals for two additional weeks.
All of the tracks were laid down with little over-dubbing or double tracking. Minor mistakes were purposely left on the record and a simple musical set-up was used to give the record a live feel. During this time they continued to play various venues in Southern California, including some notable concerts at the Pasadena Convention Center produced by their promoter and impresario, Steve Tortomasi, himself a fixture in the local rock and roll scene.
Upon its release, Van Halen reached No. 19 on the Billboard pop music charts, one of rock's most commercially successful debuts. It was highly regarded as both a heavy metal and hard rock album. The album included songs now regarded as Van Halen classics, like "Runnin' with the Devil" and the guitar solo "Eruption", which showcased Eddie's use of a technique known as 'finger-tapping'.
The band toured for nearly a year, opening for Black Sabbath and establishing a reputation for their performances. The band's chemistry owed much to Eddie Van Halen's technical guitar wizardry and David Lee Roth's flamboyant antics, strong points which later made them rivals. The band returned to the studio in 1978 for Van Halen II, an album similar in style to their debut. This record yielded the band's first hit single, "Dance the Night Away".
Over the next few years, the band alternated album releases and touring (see Van Halen concert tours). Their Women and Children First album was released in 1980 and further cemented Van Halen's status. But in 1981, during the recording of the Fair Warning album, tensions rose. Eddie's desire for more serious and complex songs was at odds with Roth's poppy style. Nonetheless, Roth (and producer Templeman) acquiesced to Eddie's wishes.
Diver Down performed better. The band then earned a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for the highest-paid single appearance of a band: $1.5 million for a 90-minute set at the 1983 US Festival. Despite this return to form, Roth and Eddie's differences continued, and this caused friction with other band members. Billy Sheehan, after his band Talas completed a tour with Van Halen, claims he was approached by Eddie Van Halen to replace Michael Anthony.
The reasons for this were never clear to Sheehan because nothing came out of it. During this time Eddie and Alex Van Halen contributed the score and instrumental songs to the movie "The Wild Life", starring Eric Stoltz. The score was heavy on the keyboards, similar to the sound used on the previous two albums and much more like the sound coming in the upcoming album 1984.
1984 (released on January 9, 1984) was their commercial pinnacle. Recorded at Eddie Van Halen's newly-built 5150 Studios, the album featured keyboards, which had only been used sporadically on previous albums. The lead single, "Jump", featured a synthesizer hook and anthemic lyrics, and became the band's first and only No. 1 pop hit, garnering them a Grammy nomination.
Other singles included "Panama" (#13 U.S.), "I'll Wait" (also No. 13 U.S.), and "Hot for Teacher". Three of the songs had popular music videos on MTV. 1984 was praised by critics and fans alike, peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard charts behind Michael Jackson's Thriller.
The album, however, was also a breaking point for the band. In the midst of the 1984 Tour the artistic and personal tensions among the musicians reached a fever pitch. Reasons for the breakup vary based on the band member interviewed, but were rooted in control of the band's sound and image.
Roth was upset about Eddie playing music outside of Van Halen without checking with the band, and his alleged drug abuse that allegedly prevented the band from viable practices. Eddie was sick of Roth's flamboyant behavior and stage persona.
Roth was also having a successful solo career with a hit song and EP (a remake of The Beach Boys classic "California Girls" (#3 U.S.) and the old standard "Just a Gigolo" (#12 U.S.). Roth was also offered a $20-million film deal for a script entitled Crazy For The Heat. Roth hoped Van Halen would contribute the soundtrack; however, the film deal fell through when MGM Pictures was sold in 1986.
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