VAN HALEN FACTS:
Members: Eddie Van Halen, Alex Van Halen, David Lee Roth, Wolfgang Van Halen
Hometown: Pasadena, CA
Genre: Hard Rock
Awards: One Grammy, 4 MTV Music Awards
Albums: Van Halen, Van Halen II, Women and Children First, Fair Warning, Diver Down, 1984
Hits: “Runnin’ with the Devil,” “(Oh) Pretty Woman,” “Jump,” “Panama,” “Why Can’t This Be Love,” Black and Blue”
Van Halen was one of the most successful rock bands of the 1980s and gained legions of dedicated fans that follow them to this day. When the rock music scene lost much of its steam in the late 1970s, Van Halen's exuberant energy and soaring guitar riffs made them one of the pioneers of what is now called arena rock. The band has gone through various lineups over the years, but the incendiary guitar skills of Eddie Van Halen and the smooth vocals of frontman David Lee Roth made the group legendary. Van Halen has more No. 1 hits on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart than any band in history and is widely considered one of the top American acts of all time.
The group was actually discovered by Kiss frontman, Gene Simmons, who saw them at a Los Angeles club and personally financed their demo tape. After being signed to Warner Brothers records, the group released its self-titled debut album in 1978. The album reached No. 19 on the charts and featured the band's cover of the Kinks classic, "You Really Got Me," and "Running With the Devil."
After a series of platinum albums, Van Halen made a serious move onto the pop charts with the album, 1984. The album peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and gave the band its first No. 1 single, "Jump." Combining a catchy synthesizer with the band's fast-paced style, the track is still considered one of the best pop songs of all time.
After David Lee Roth left the band in 1985, the group quickly hired Sammy Hagar to be the front man. While critics were initially skeptical about the quick change, the band surprised everyone with three multiplatinum albums in a row. The records, 5150 and OU812, were the group's first No. 1 albums and sold extremely well throughout the United States.
After the end of the Sammy Hagar era in 1996, the group went through varying lineups and hinted at reunion tours throughout the late '90s and 2000s. In 2007, the group performed for its induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and then went on to tour for the first time in years. With a world tour planned for 2012 and the group's first album in 14 years, Van Halen looks to finally return to the top of the rock and roll world.
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Once in a Lifetime Opportunity! This was 19 years ago, but it is something I will never ever forget. In 1988, Sammy Hagar performed at an annual summer music festival called the Texxas Jam. He decided his performance was awful (I think he wasn't feeling well and had vocal troubles). He vowed that he would do a free concert to make up for the bad show. Every time he came through Dallas or appeared on Q102/KTXQ, he mentioned that he was working on trying to set up the free show. A couple of times, it was scheduled but plans always fell through. I went to work at Dallas Alley (aka Step III Entertainment) part-time and was hired full-time in 1991. Our then-vice-president Jerry Thompson had gone to a 'secret' meeting in October 1991. When he came back, he looked like the cat who swallowed the canary...LOL! He said he had a special surprise for us that would take place in December, and he bet that no one would guess what it was. Having been a devoted and longtime Q102 listener, I guessed it right off the bat. WooHoo for me! Jerry looked extremely shocked and surprised (he normally had a great poker face!) but quickly recovered and denied that was it was Sammy bringing Van Halen to do the long-promised free show. Lots of preparations were made, even down to greasing the light poles around the plaza of Dallas Alley. Dallas Alley employees were given very strict instructions as to when to get to work, where to park, and how to gain access to the building, etc. Of course, a few weeks later, there was a big press conference in Take 5, one of the clubs that made up Dallas Alley, where Sammy, Eddie, Alex and Michael talked about the show. They flew into Dallas to perform this one show during their Christmas break; they were scheduled for perform at Reunion Arena in February 1992. I woke that morning sick as a dog, but I was damned if I was going to miss this event....LOL! The morning was hard to get through as the phone rang incessantly from people trying to get information about the show and roadies were trying to set up the stage. People were constantly coming and going through the office. The streets were lined with people as far as the eye could see. Finally, the big moment arrived. Sammy and the guys performed an hour-long set that included Van Halen classics as well as cuts of their new CD 'For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge.' I was lucky enough to go down to the plaza to stand backstage and watch the show for a little while. The rest of the show I watched from upstairs. That was the best show I EVER saw at Dallas Alley. Alas, Dallas Alley is no longer open, but I still have my memories. BTW, I was so sick that I ended up missing the next couple of days of work, but it was sooooo worth it! :-) November 18, 2010