Miscellaneous Rumbles

VH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

1

How many of you caught the VH bug when VH and "Eddie" changed the rock world?

Here's some old footage from '79. There are lots of still shots mixed into the video.

With Michael's high backing vocals, Eddie as well, Dave's great vocal and "high train-whistle" scream, and of course Eddie's effortless shredding, Van Halen was so freakin' awesome.

As Joe Naylor, (founder of Reverend Guitars) put, everything changed when Eddie burst on the scene.

Addendum: They knocked many of us out when we first heard them. Somebody gets us a doctor!

...VH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

2

Although I was a few years old to get the religion, even I could tell that he advanced rock guitar -- pushed it forward -- with a style he pretty much created that was soon copied by many.

3

Van Halen were game changers. It's great to hear David Lee Roth singing so well live too. He didn't always keep that up.

4

I'm a huge Eddie fan. The speed and articulation that he gets with great definition has always impressed the hell out of me. He also has great musicality. David Lee Roth aint never done a thing for me. I thought that Sammy was a great difference, not to take away what Dave did on the early stuff.

5

I was 17 years old when Van Halen put out their first record. A friend of mine called and asked me to come to his house to listen to a new record he had just bought. I listened in awe, and couldn't believe what I was hearing, or imagine what Eddie was doing. It changed the direction that rock music was heading, and within a few years two hand tapping was everywhere.

6

I was at a Black Sabbath concert with Van Halen opening.

After VH did their set, we were all like "Black Who?"

7

Yeah, i was all over that 1st VH album. I had a 70's- something Toyota Celica with a killer stereo blasting Eruption every chance I got!

8

Apparently (says the old guy who was so over rock when VH emerged), they were one of the elite lineage of bands over the years whose very first albums signaled not only the arrival of a ground-breaking talent, but an inflection point in the evolution of the music - and even the birth of a new genre.

Though it was clear to me that VH was a fresh formulation of hard rock and that Eddie was THE new guitarist from Mars, it didn't quite hit me with the same impact it would have had if I'd been 12 or 15 or even 18 when it happened. To put myself in that kid's shoes and understand the seismic shift, I just think how I felt when I first put on Are You Experienced in 1967 or In The Court of the Crimson King in 1969 - and thought I'd suddenly been transported to a new dimension. Those too were artists we'd never heard of, and from the first note of the first album they were fully formed and transformational.

(For context, "Whiter Shade of Pale" was released on the same day in 1967 as Are You Experienced, three months after "Penny Lane" but a month before Sgt Peppers - and, for a new band introducing a new aesthetic, The Doors beat them all to the punch with their first album on 1/4/67. It was a transformative year.)

I'm trying to think of hard rock precursors to VH who similarly blew the doors of my ears off with their first outings. You'd think Led Zeppelin, in January '69 - but that seemed still connected to the harder rockers of the time, and didn't sound yet like the new genre metal would end up being.

Black Sabbath often gets credit for the first metal album, released on 2/13/70 - and yeah, OK maybe. It was weird, it was obviously something new, and I bought it and dug it - but somehow while the dirges and death marches were superficially interesting, and I stuck with the Sabs for three albums, even at the time they sounded amateurish and plodding, and like the soundtrack to a campy horror cartoon. The shtick wore thin for me quickly.

The album that struck me as the first full-blown example of a new genre emerging from rock was Deep Purple's In Rock, in June 1970, where suddenly everything came together: the breakneck tempos, the precision, the unrelentingly heavy guitar, the overdriven guitar-bass riffing, the (relative) virtuosity of the players, the screaming (but controlled) vocals (and, for my taste, the dirty B3). We'd heard power trios already - Cream, Zep, The Who in their way, Hendrix in his way - but still, In Rock was somehow a new formulation. Hendrix, Cream, Zep, etc all slowed down occasionally for gentle, pretty moments, and wore their blues cred like a badge. The new Deep Purple was largely blues-based, but it was at a further remove. At its tempo it didn't wallow in any blues cliches - and from beginning to blistering end, the album took no prisoners.

But, alas, it wasn't DP's first album. It was their fifth; they'd had to evolve into this new posture. It still had impact, but not the same as a sudden supernova from an unknown source.

(The same goes for Yes's most transformative, genre-defining albums: they weren't career-openers. Which is why I'm not talking about Yes. For once. Except now.)

Uriah Heep seemed twinned with the new DP template with their first album, also in June 1970. Those two albums were a lot to absorb in one month.

YES, I KNOW: this thread is a celebration of everything VH, and I'm fully enlisted in the program, and I'm getting there.

Eddie and Co. couldn't invent hard rock or metal, really - everything I've mentioned and 10 years' worth of now-called-classic rock had preceded them. When I heard the records, I recognized that there was a new aesthetic at work, a fresh take on power trio arranging, a new synergy of explosive mile-wide bass-drums-guitar, and either/both new recording techniques or new post-production and mastering. It sounded HUGE, and grooving, heavy - AND light-bright.

BUT. I could tell where it had come from. The formula - massively driven guitar, monster riffage, screamin' lead and vocals - had been laid down a decade before. If anything, it makes VH's accomplishment more impressive that they found something new to make from familiar materials.

I guess we attribute that to Ed's and Alex's literal lifetime of having honed their considerable individual skills by playing together - and the decade or more the core of the band spent paying their dues at parties, dances, and in bars. That band didn't fall together and make magic - they'd honed it for years. No wonder they never seemed to fall off the beam rhythmically, or even for a moment lose the thread musically. There were dynamics and shifts of color and mood, fluid ebb and flow in the groove - but the band both rocked and swung, seemingly all the time, because they'd fused into one unit over years of playing together.

As virtuosic as Eddie's licks were, he never seemed studious or nerdy, contrived or posed - always just exuberant, spontaneous, even joyful. Not many guitarists seemed to have as much fun as Ed in the prime of the band. (Maybe Steve Morse, who's always grinning.) It's not like he was shredding to impress, intimidate, or drop the mic on any competitors - he was just entertaining himself.

And for all the shredding and posturing hair-band imitators VH unintentionally but inevitably spawned - which became the rock vibe of the 80s - Van Halen remained something unique. To me there was something natural and organic about VH that few 80s hard-rockers had.

Maybe some of that is down to Roth's over-the-top clown prince of rock-n-roll act. He was the perfect foil to all the serious chops the band so casually demonstrated. He was like a live-action cartoon character. I know it's possible to hate the guy for that, to consider him too campy for such a seriously-rocking band, but I thought that was part of the charm. Didn't seem like he took himself too seriously; he was ready and even eager to put on the fool, and for me that somehow balanced the band. Vocally he was OK with me - and with Anthony's vocals it all worked.

I saw him with his own band, in the Steve Vai era, and yeah he was ridiculous - but he was thoroughly entertaining from git to go. Lots of metal bands of the era rendered themselves ridiculous because they took their image so seriously, got sucked up in it, didn't get the gag. With Roth, you knew he knew, and you were all in on it. It was for fun.

So I'm good with Dave. Lovable goofball. An extrovert Ringo out front hamming it up - or a hipper leaping Freddie Garrity for a new decade.

VH was a decade late to really hit me where I lived, to be bedrock in my musical DNA (or I was a decade too old) - but I'm a fan.

9

I watched a long Eddie interview the other night.

He said a lot of his innovations and "discoveries" were due to one thing, he could NOT afford pedals, so he had to figure out ways to get different guitar sounds with just his hands.

Addendum: Another band, (off the VH topic) that I believe had a brand new sound with their first album was Boston. Nothing else sounded like it.

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10

Another band, (off the VH topic) that I believe had a brand new sound with their first album was Boston.

Very true. It was fresh at the time. Although it kinda led to the sort of very polished "corporate rock" (a la Journey, Toto, Foreigner on a good day) that VH never fell into.

11

I remember driving Cross-Country in Summer 1975 to Huntington Beach...even then in SoCal they were a big thing, all the buzz for my/our age group.

They went on to Sellout the Santa Monica Civic Center as a local band.

"Jamie's Cryin" was their first hit that made the East Coast that next Summer '76?, maybe Summer '77 (if I believe Wiki). I think Gene Simmons released a Demo tape to all the Stations, he was trying to produce them at that time. They eventually got a record deal.

That single was released long before the first album.

12

The pride of Pasadena. I was about 15 when they hit it big and it was, as others said above, life changing.

Personally I loved how, amidst all their sound and fury, they would suddenly break into...barbershop? I don’t think they ever got enough credit for that.

13

I Actually had an encounter with the band years ago... brief, it was, but somewhat memorable regardless.

On one of VH's 80s tours (think it was "Hide Your Sheep" in 1982), I was paying some bills by driving limo for a local company. When the band blew through town, I was the driver tapped to haul the band from their hotel at Laurel Point up to the Memorial Arena where the gig was happening.

The band was to be there for sound check at 4:00. I picked them up on schedule at 3:15, which left us 45 minutes to make the 15 minute journey to the stage door.

We wound up being over an hour late. EvH and DLR were irrepressible. Hanging out the window, waving at every young lady they saw, getting me to stop the car several times so one or more could run into some store that caught their fancy, and finally a trip to the closest liquor store, where one of their own people finally found us, got the guys herded back into the Caddy and eventually up to the arena.

A very surreal hour and forty five..

When it was over, DLR hugged me and said in a voice I am sure they could hear inside the area, "Hey, thanks man! You're the F---in' best, man!" , then handed me the last third of his bottle of Jack as a tip and vanished into the arena...

I was told the sell-out show was wild, but I was off shift and someone else got to herd that particular sack of cats back to Laurel Point later that night.

Didn't drink the Jack... kept it for a few weeks, then tossed it. Something about it made me a little nervous.

14

I saw them open for the Stones in '78 @ the Superdome. KILLER show, VH, Doobie Brothers, Rolling Stones. Entertained in between sets by The Flying Karamazov Brothers and some circus type acrobats.

It set an indoor attendance record at the time for a live music event, 85K+ which I'm sure has since been eclipsed. What I remember most is the look on everyone's faces when VH launched into their set. "Who the hell ARE these guys?"

Still don't like Dixie beer though...

15

I have great admiration and respect for everything Eddie did for music. It's not just the music itself but the gear he 'invented' too.

I never really got 'the bug' though.

16

I ran into Eddie on Bourbon St in New Orleans during the 1985 Summer NAMM. I mean, literally - ran into. Crowded sidewalks, I think he was walking backwards and I was looking off to the side or something. You know they leave the doors open to strip joints in New Orleans.

Boom! We both turned around, eyes wide. I rared back and said "Do you know who you look like?" I must've sounded unusually hillbilly at the time; he put on the widest, twangin'est mock-the-afflicted hillbilly accent imaginable and said "No! Hewww dewww Ah look laahk? Ah spose yew wunt my autergrayaph now?"

"Nah, thanks."

That's my Van Halen moment.

At a NAMM show a few years ago, FMIC brought him in for dealer greets when introducing some Eddie product, and he was hanging out with buds (and beers) in the "green room" on the other side of a thin curtain from the media pit where I was working on GDP postings. He was noodling on a guitar through the little Fender modeling amp of the day and cracking wise (and loud and none too articulate) with his court. I wouldn't have been able to get through his FMIC handler to meet him (no "standing," as it were), not that I tried. If I'd thought of it at the time, and had been able to, I'd've pointed and said "Dew yeww know hew yew loook lahk?"

17

How ironic that "Boston" seemed/sounded very corporate rock to some people.

Tom Schultz hid out and recorded everything in his basement on the first two Boston albums, much to the displeasure of the record label.

As for VH, actually, Paul Stanley first heard/discovered Van Halen one night, then went back the next night and took friends, Gene Simmons was one of them.

Gene quickly took advantage of timing and heading backstage to introduce himself and get the band to New York to record a demo. After the demo was done, Gene wasn't completely happy with DLR's vocals, and KISS was about to go back out on tour. He let them out of the contract they signed, and VH headed back to the west coast to be HUGE!

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18

I was definitely influenced by Eddie when I was a teenager building my chops. He gave me plenty of challenging things to learn. He was so innovative musically and with equipment. I had a Peavey Wolfgang about fifteen years ago that I bought dirt cheap. Those are very unique guitars. Very light and super resonant. The pickups are direct mounted and very hot. The bridge pickup was supposed to be a ripoff of a Dimarzio Tone Zone. Those are very hot and big sounding pickups. The guitar felt like a short scale guitar but they're not. Best I can remember, they're 25 1/2" scale length. Everything is shifted so far toward the lower bout they seem like a short scale guitar. Very comfortable design. One of the coolest things about them is the asymmetrical neck profile. Thicker at the top than the bottom. Kind of like if you stood a hard boiled egg on it's small end and sliced it down the middle. I never should have sold it. Kind of got a hankering for another one. Eddie was pretty much the man in hard rock for a long time. My favorite guitar sound he ever had was on the Fair Warning album. Big respect for EVH.

19

How ironic that "Boston" seemed/sounded very corporate rock to some people.

Boston did not sound "corporate" when they first emerged, nor did I say they did. I said they sounded fresh, and they did.

My point was that their very smooth, polished, compressed sound was a great influence on the slick, melodic, uber-perfected "corporate rock" that followed.

20

By their debut, I was already steeped in Texas Blues, hard rock and people like Bugs Henderson, SRV, John Nitzinger, Point Blank and other Texas guys like Doug Sahm. I was taken by Eddies playing but knew that at almost 35, I would never ever play like that and particularly didn't want to. It was however formative for many other guitar players not quite as mature in their journey.. I still love their music.

My one dig on them is their treatment of Michael Anthony. I am happy to see him in Sammy Hagar's circle of players, he seems super happy to be there and get the respect he was denied in VH.


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