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Van Halen

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Van Halen

Van Halen's 1978 debut album propelled hard rock into the commercial mainstream.

Courtesy Warner Bros.

Van Halen's Origins:

Pasadena, California - 1974

Original Name:

Mammoth

Origin of the Name:

Founding members, brothers Alex and Eddie Van Halen

Original Members:

Eddie Van Halen - guitar, keys, vocals
Alex Van Halen - drums
Michael Anthony - bass, vocals
David Lee Roth - vocals

Other Members:

Sammy Hagar - vocals, guitar
Gary Cherone - vocals

Current Members:

Eddie, Alex and Wolfgang Van Halen, and David Lee Roth

Van Halen's First Album:

Van Halen - 1978

Last Album: Van Halen III - 1998

Significant Facts:

  • 11 albums between 1978 and 1998, all reaching the US Top 20
  • Worldwide album sales more than 75-million
  • On the RIAA's list of the Top 20 best sellers in the US
  • Eddie Van Halen is one of Rolling Stone magazine's Greatest Rock Guitarists
  • Band is one of VH-1's Greatest Artists of Hard Rock

A Mammoth Beginning for Van Halen:

Brothers Alex and Eddie Van Halen were born in The Netherlands. After the family moved to Pasadena, California Eddie began studying classical piano and Alex took up the guitar. By their early teens, it was Eddie who was playing guitar and Alex had switched to drums.
In 1974, the Van Halen brothers, bassist Michael Anthony and vocalist David Lee Roth began playing local gigs as Mammoth. When they discovered that another Pasadena band was already using that name, Roth suggested the group take the name Van Halen. The brothers didn’t like it at first, but when no one came up with a better name, they went along with it.

Launching the Van Halen Rocket:

In 1976, Van Halen were getting regular work playing clubs on Los Angeles’ Sunset Strip. It was here that they came to the attention of KISS frontman Gene Simmons, who was so impressed with the band that he paid for their first demo tape. In 1978, their self-titled debut album was released, becoming one of the most successful debut albums ever and bringing hard rock into the musical mainstream.
Over the next 20 years, the Van Halens and Anthony remained the core of the increasingly influential and successful band. Roth left the group in 1985, primarily because of disagreements with Eddie Van Halen. Sammy Hagar, then the lead singer for Montrose, replaced Roth. The “Van Hagar” era lasted until 1996. Gary Cherone signed on for two years, and one album, as lead singer. Hagar rejoined the band for a reunion tour in 2004.

Today and Tomorrow:

Roth and Hagar have pursued successful solo careers, and touring together. Hagar and Anthony have also performed together. Until recently, Eddie Van Halen has been somewhat reclusive, undergoing hip replacement and cancer surgery, and a divorce from his wife of 21 years, actress Valerie Bertinelli. The brothers performed briefly with country artist Kenny Chesney during a Los Angeles area concert in June 2006. Eddie performed a solo concert in Los Angeles in July 2006.
The Roth era brought the greatest critical acclaim, though the Hagar era was the most successful commercially. In 2007, the Van Halen brothers, Eddie's son Wolfgang and Roth re-formed Van Halen for a reunion tour.

Essential CD:

Van Halen
The band's debut album propelled high energy hard rock into the commercial mainstream. Eddie Van Halen's guitar solo, "Eruption" earned widespread acclaim for its technical achievement, and served as a model for a generation of guitarists.

Signature Songs

"Runnin' With the Devil"
"Jump"
"Right Now"
"Dance the Night Away"
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