Van Halen was one of the most popular American hard rock/heavy metal bands to emerge in the 70’s, primarily distinguished by the fleet fingers of guitarist Eddie Van Halen.
Eddie and his brother Alex, who played the drums, were actually born in the Netherlands and moved to California as children. They formed the group in Pasadena in 1974 and worked their way up the Southern California club circuit, before being ‘found’ by KISS monster Gene Simmons in 1976 and signing with Warner Brothers in 1977.
Their debut album, Van Halen, released in 1978, went gold in three months, and platinum in eight (in 1999, the RIAA certified the album as ‘diamond’, for ten million US sales). Exercising the sort of clout that goes with those record sales, when the band toured the US in 1978 their contract rider insisted all brown M&Ms be removed from the bowls of confectionery in their dressing rooms!
The group hit a popular peak in 1984 with 1984 which sold four million copies in its first year of release, and its number one single Jump, after which Dave Lee Roth left the band for a solo career (he said he quit, they said he was fired). He was replaced by Sammy Hagar.
What made this chart-topping band intermittently interesting was the tension between show-biz singer David Lee Roth and excessive guitarist Eddie Van Halen.
Once Sammy Hagar took Roth’s place, all that was left was the excess. But not even recruiting ex-Extreme singer Gary Cherone could kill them.
David Lee Roth
Eddie Van Halen
Alex Van Halen