Artist and Musician Biographies


Here is a YouTube Mix of music by Van Halen.

Dubbed the ultimate party band, in the early 1980s Van Halen set the standard for a new decade of hard rock. The original members of the band which formed in California in 1975 were singer David Lee Roth (1955), bass player Michael Anthony (1955), and brothers Alex Van Halen (1950) on drums and Eddie Van Halen (1957) on guitar.

The Van Halen brothers, who were actually trained as classical pianists, began playing rock music together in high school, with Eddie on drums and Alex on guitar. It was Alex however that demonstrated a superior talent for the drums, leaving Eddie to make the switch to guitar. Within a few years, the brothers were introduced to Indiana native David Lee Roth who would become their lead singer, and soon after added bass player Michael Anthony as their fourth member.

Originally performing under the name "Mammoth", the group decided to take the name of it's founding members after learning their first choice was taken. Now playing as Van Halen, the group got their big break in 1976 when Gene Simmons of the hugely successful theatrical hard rock/heavy metal group KISS came to see them at a small club in Los Angeles. Simmons immediately agreed to produce a few demo tapes for them, which quickly led to their contract with Warner Brothers Records.

The success of Van Halen was most notably reliant on the dazzling array of techniques demonstrated by lead guitarist Eddie Van Halen. His unique talent and skill place him among the highest ranks of rock guitarists and redefined what the electric guitar could do. He demonstrates a dizzying and complicated style ranging from simple riffs to extended solos filled elaborately inventive techniques that extend the normal sound of the guitar.

The wildly inventive, the band rewrote the rules for hard rockover, thanks to Over-the-top experimentation of Eddie's guitar work and his ostentatious personality, along with overtly sexual lyrics and the onstage gymnastics of lead singer David Lee Roth. In 1984 the group released their most successful album 1984, which yielded their first No. 1 single "Jump."

However, in 1985, after six acclaimed albums, singer David Lee Roth left to pursue a solo career and was replaced by Sammy Hagar (1947) (I Can't Drive 55). There is an interesting legend about how Hagar joined the band. It seems that Eddie mentioned to the mechanic working on his Lambroghini that Van Halen was now a trio. Since Sammy's car was also in the same shop, the mechanic suggested that Eddie give him a call. After 10 years, the second incarnation of Van Halen was formed.

The new Van Halen achieved a much greater level of critical and commercial success including their first no. 1 album. With catchy pop oriented rock tunes, like "Why Can't This Be Love", and "Best of Both Worlds" the new Van Halen released a total of three albums before Hagar left (or was fired) in 1996.

In 1997, a third vocalist for the band was found in Gary Cherone (1961), formerly of the group "Extreme." Although the band has released two albums with Cherone, none have achieved the success, nor duplicated the hard-rocking libido-laden sound of the original Van Halen, until 2012, when the group released A Different Kind of Truth which was certified Gold in Canada.

Page author: A.E. & C.F.