1978- Who doesn’t remember when you first heard “Eruption”? Myself and my local group of ne’er do wells were stopped dead in our tracks when we did. It was a sonic assault unlike any we had heard before. How could this be a guitar? Who could be behind this? And when it lead into “You Really Got Me” (being a Kinks fan I knew the track very well.) their rendition blew me away. I finally got my hands on a copy of this tasty piece of vinyl and proceeded to wear it the hell out. The raw power and swagger of this band was unbelievable. I found my self lost in the music and fancied myself a DLR clone. I mustered up as much swagger as I could and failed miserably, there was only one David Lee Roth.
Throughout the years I caught them every chance I could (Van Halen today remains the band I have seen live the most) and was never disappointed. The albums changed and the music evolved as did the members of Van Halen.
Things started going south for me with the 1982 release of Diver Down. Some of the tracks were incredibly awesome, and others left me scratching my head in bewilderment. What was going on here? I sucked it up however, and remained a loyal fan.
1984- WTF?!?!? What happened to my band of badasses? “Jump” really? As much as I tried to like this record it never really happened for me. And then, the king of swagger was gone David Lee Roth was no longer a part of the mighty Van Halen.
I had been a fan of Sammy Hagar for quite a while when I heard the news of his replacing DLR. I thought to myself “this should be interesting with Sammy being quite an accomplished songwriter and guitarist. I waited in anticipation for the results.
When 5150 hit the stores I snapped it up eager to see what direction they were taking. While not the dangerous “you’re gonna go to jail if you hang out with those guys” band they used to be, it was good. Different but good. Van Halen had become a more mainstream act and it seemed stronger song writers. I found myself at that point in my life more mature as well, and I enjoyed the music. The four studio albums with Sammy gave some great songs and the memories that went a long with them .
And then, like a bad dream, Sammy was out and Gary Cherone (really guys, I thought to myself) from Extreme was in. it was 1998 and was a 34 year old family man now but still a loyal rocker. I put aside my misgivings and entered Van Halen III with an open mind. I actually found this record quite good, a departure from the VH sound but good. And then, again, Gary was out and so was Michael Anthony.
Van Halen then kind of faded away in the eyes and ears of most people. They remained ever present in the rotation of music that I played, never far from my ears. Rumors and stories abounded but never came to fruition.
A couple of Reunions with Hagar and Roth came and went and rumors of new album with Roth began. In 2012 we finally got A Different Kind Of Truth and learned that Wolfgang Van Halen was now the bassist for Van Halen. It was through this record I realized my precious Van Halen was no more.
I had been there though it all: Van Halen, Van Hagar, Extreme Van Halen, and now Van Halen3 plus Dave.
In the past few days Van Halen has been asplash on the internet with their appearance on Jimmy Kimmel. I watched with baited breath hoping to catch a glimpse of my heroes of old. Alas, I was disappointed and a little embarrassed for them. While Eddie as usual had killer tone and chops, and Alex still brought the thunder, Young Wolfgang was no Michael Anthony, and David Lee Roth, well, let’s just say sometimes it’s better to leave on a high note. I will not speak of the current Sammy project because this was about me and Van Halen and I want to keep it that way.
I will always love and respect the music Van Halen has given me throughout the years and yes I will buy any and everything they release, I just feel that it’s time to move on for them….
Van Halen I love you guys (all of you) now and forever