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David Lee Roth and Ozzy Osbourne’s insane ‘cocaine challenge’ of 1978


 
In 1978 Van Halen and Black Sabbath teamed up for a tour to end all tours. Van Halen shared bills with a bunch of big acts in ‘78 during their first world tour, all of whom immediately regretted the decision because VH was next to impossible to upstage. I mean, how do you follow a band that shows up to a gig by parachuting from a plane, then catches a ride from a van waiting for them on the ground, and starts playing the show still wearing the jumpsuits they jumped out of the plane in? Oh, and they just happen to be Van fucking Halen, no big deal. Of course, the members of VH didn’t actually jump out of a plane in California just so they could play their set at the Anaheim Stadium Summer Fest in September of 1978, they had stuntmen do it, so they didn’t miss out on happy hour before the show. Priorities, Van Halen has ‘em.

In getting back to VH’s tour with Black Sabbath, Sabbath quickly learned their choice of opening bands might have been a mistake. Ozzy told writer Greg Renoff (author of the fantastic book, Van Halen Rising) that he and Sabbath were “stunned” after witnessing Van Halen’s set during the start of the tour in Europe in May of 1978. 1978 had been a rough year for Sabbath, and their collective drug and alcohol consumption was at an all-time high. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but this was especially true for Ozzy.

Ozzy was so messed up he actually quit the band, briefly forcing Sabbath to replace him with Dave Walker (Fleetwood Mac/Savoy Brown). Ozzy would return, and the tour rolled on through Europe, eventually wrapping up in the U.S. for the second leg of their North American shows. The night before the tour stopped in Nashville, Tennessee, Roth and Ozzy decided to stay up until nine in the morning doing blow to see which one of them would faceplant first. Score one for DLR for having the balls to challenge Ozzy to a competition involving drugs without dying in the process. Somehow, both Roth and Osbourne made it to the airport, got to Nashville, and checked into their hotel. Later on when it came time to head off to sound check, Ozzy didn’t show up. The tour manager had never given Ozzy the key to his room which would explain why Ozzy wasn’t found there either.
 

A photo of Dave Walker, a Brummie pal of Tony Iommi, during his short time with Black Sabbath. On January 6th, 1978, Black Sabbath appeared on the British TV show ‘Look Hear’ performing “War Pigs,” and an early version of the song “Junior’s Eyes” penned by Walker. Listen to it here.
 
Things got frantic quick given Ozzy’s less than stellar track record of not being a responsible human and it had everyone thinking the worst—the singer had been kidnapped or was lying dead somewhere in Nashville. At some point when it became clear Ozz wasn’t going to materialize in time for the show, Roth said members of Sabbath asked him if he could sing any of their material, but he didn’t know any of their lyrics. Van Halen would play their opening slot, but Sabbath would have to cancel for obvious reasons. By this time the hotel and surrounding areas were now swarming with the local police and the FBI, all searching for Osbourne. At the center of it all was David Lee Roth, as he was technically—as far as anyone knew—one of the last people to see Ozzy alive. Searches for the singer turned up no clues, no sightings, nothing. Then, as things were starting to seem quite bleak Roth recalls Sabbath had been hanging out sitting on a carpet in the hotel lobby, grim as fuck waiting to have their worst fears confirmed. What actually happened was a very out-of-it-Ozzy headed up to what he thought was his room, #616, as he still had the key from the previous night’s hotel in his possession. The room was being cleaned and Ozzy told the housekeeper to beat it so he could crash for eighteen hours or so after doing blow for half a day with DLR. According to the police report, when he woke up, he realized he was in the wrong room and toddled off to his real room where he picked up a call from a Nashville detective. Dave remembers at around 6:30 in the morning a not dead, maybe only half dead Ozzy walked out of the hotel lobby elevator. Here’s a hilarious quote from Lt. Sherman Nickens of the Nashville, Tennessee PD on the incident. Oh, Lt. Nickens, if you only knew!

“Ozzy Osbourne may have been kidnapped or been the victim of some other form of foul play. Here’s a man who makes a lot of money and has never missed a show in ten years. He doesn’t drink or use dope. He disappears and his people are so frantic. So it was possible that something had happened to this man. While all the time he’s sleeping.”

Let this be a lesson to you folks: never challenge David Lee Roth to a cocaine duel—you will lose.

Sabbath returned to Tennessee with VH a few days later to make up the gig and by most accounts it wasn’t great, as Osbourne’s voice was shot. What follows are photos of VH and Sabbath (one is NSFW) taken during their massive tour in 1978. Also included below is footage of Sabbath’s incredible performance at the Hammersmith Odeon on June 1st, 1978, and equally impressive bootleg audio of Van Halen’s set the same night. Your speakers are about to get a well-deserved workout.
 

A collage of amusing headlines and articles about Ozzy oversleeping in the wrong hotel room in Nashville.
 

 
More coked-up mayhem and mischief after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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09.19.2018
08:42 am
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The night in 1976 when a pre-fame Eddie Van Halen OD’d and nearly died
08.31.2018
09:12 am
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Golden West boot
 
Regardless of how you feel about their music, it’s undeniable that the first six albums by Van Halen had a massive impact on hard rock and heavy metal. Though they had catchy songs that rocked, and frontman David Lee Roth had much to do with their appeal, the influence of Van Halen is largely due to their guitarist, Eddie Van Halen. He not only wrote the group’s music, but his unique approach to his instrument inspired a generation of musicians. Unfortunately, many of them focused too much on Eddie’s technical prowess, seemingly failing to notice that his style has loads of personality, too. So, what if Eddie had died before Van Halen’s first album was even recorded? It’s interesting to ponder, especially as it nearly happened.

By spring 1976, Van Halen had been together for a couple of years. They were gigging regularly and had developed a following in the Los Angeles area, but a record contract had so far eluded them. They played all over Southern California, performing at house parties, high schools and colleges, as well as seedy nightclubs like Gazzarri’s. But there were also shows at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium and the Golden West Ballroom in Norwalk, which were larger venues. Though Van Halen already had a number of original songs, their sets largely consisted of cover tunes—often at the assistance of club owners. For their May 9th appearance at the Golden West, in which they would open for popular English rock band UFO, they were told they could perform their own material. This marks the first time Van Halen would play a set of just their songs.
 
Van Halen
 
That night, after being introduced by early supporter Rodney Bingenheimer, Van Halen blew UFO off the stage of the Golden West. Their set off all originals went over so well that they were called back out for an encore, electing to perform the one cover they would do that evening, KISS’s “Rock and Roll All Nite.”

Afterwards, Eddie Van Halen hopped offstage and worked his way through the crowd of supporters towards the men’s room. His group had just played the biggest show of their young career, but nature called. Once in the bathroom, Eddie ran into a drug dealer he knew. This guy was so impressed with the performance he had just witnessed, that he freely offered what Eddie thought was cocaine, and that Ed could snort as much as he wanted—so the guitarist did just that. After thanking the man, Eddie left the bathroom and headed back towards the stage to fetch his gear. Once there, it wasn’t long before Eddie’s body started convulsing, and he soon collapsed to the floor. Turns out it wasn’t blow that he had snorted, but PCP.

In his essential book on the their formative years, Van Halen Rising: How a Southern California Backyard Party Band Saved Heavy Metal, author Greg Renoff describes what happened next.

As his bandmates and crew huddled around him, Edward’s face was drawn taut, like a mask. His jaw was locked and his eyes fixed. Panicking, Alex [Van Halen, drummer] yelled in his ear and shook him, and yet his younger brother remained rigid and unresponsive. Edward Van Halen was dying.

 
Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Bart Bealmear
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08.31.2018
09:12 am
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David Lee Roth on Dongo Island: The ten-million-dollar film DLR left Van Halen for but never made
07.24.2018
09:28 am
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It almost happened!
 
If you are a child of the 80s, you must recall one of the messiest rock band breakups ever when David Lee Roth walked away from his vocalist duties for Van Halen. Things got hairy between Roth and Eddie Van Halen after the decision was made in 1983 to record their sixth studio record, 1984, at Eddie’s new studio, 5150. Even though the album produced a few monster hits, Roth couldn’t shake the feeling recording 1984 at 5150 gave Eddie too much creative control over the band. And he wasn’t necessarily wrong. Here’s Eddie talking about the decision to move VH’s base of recording operations to his home studio:

“The bottom line is I wanted more control. I was always butting heads with Ted Templeman about what makes a good record. My philosophy has always been I’d rather bomb with my own music than make it with other people’s music.”

 
This wouldn’t be the first time things got intense between DLR, Eddie, his brother Alex, and bassist Michael Anthony. To help promote Women and Children First, the band’s label Warner Brothers engaged one of the art world’s biggest icons, Helmut Newton, to take photos of the band. Roth was an enthusiastic fan of Newton, but allegedly the rest of the group hadn’t heard of him and were unimpressed. Which was fine, as it turns out Newton didn’t vibe with the Van Halen brothers during the photo shoot at Dave’s house in 1979. Following the shoot, an all-out war in the VH camp started with accusations coming from the brothers claiming Roth was trying to be the “center of attention.” Warner Brothers would end up bringing in photographer Norman Seeff to shoot more images of the band in an effort to keep the peace. Two of Seeff’s photos were used for the cover and back of Women and Children First, and have since become iconic. As a compromise, Newton’s photo of a shirtless David Lee Roth in chains was included as a mini-poster inside the album.
 

Photos taken by Norman Seeff used for the 1980 album ‘Women and Children First.’
 
Rock historians have said this incident was the beginning of the band’s demise after relations between Roth and the band became super tense during the grueling seven-month tour in support of 1984. Roth wanted to do things—like acting—without VH but hoped Eddie Van Halen would do the soundtrack for upcoming film he was planning. At some point, Roth pointedly asked Eddie to do the score, a request Eddie declined. Roth responded by saying he couldn’t “work” with the band for a while, adding that once he was done with his movie, they would “get back together.” In August of 1985, Eddie Van Halen told Rolling Stone “the band (Van Halen) as you know it is over.”

Continues after the, er… jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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07.24.2018
09:28 am
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Light Up The Sky: A treasure trove of live Van Halen recordings from the late ‘70s appears online
05.25.2018
08:45 am
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Music Life 1979
 
During 2016 and 2017, a bootleg label, Mad Hatter Records, put out five Van Halen vinyl releases that featured previously uncirculated live material from the late 1970s. The LPs were only available in super-limited quantities. How limited were they, you ask? At the most, twelve copies were offered for sale, and as little as nine. Van Halen fans FREAKED OUT when digitized versions of these LPs were recently posted online.

The earliest show was recorded in 1978 during their first trek, when Van Halen was brand spanking new. There’s a 1979 rehearsal for the tour supporting their second record, and three stereo soundboards (!!!) from that outing. This is a young and hungry Van Halen, and they were never better on stage than during this period.
 
VH live
 
The 1978 recording was captured on April 3rd at a Wichita club called Pogo’s. The set is filled with songs from their first album and also includes a tune that can’t be found on any of their official albums—a cover of “Summertime Blues.” They open with the punk-metal number, “On Fire,” and it’s a burner, for sure; Eddie Van Halen’s guitar playing is positively sick. When EVH plays his groundbreaking “Eruption” solo, you can tell the audience is stunned into silence.

Much more, after the…er… jump…

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Posted by Bart Bealmear
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05.25.2018
08:45 am
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‘Should I Stay or Should I Go?’: Mick Jones’ last performance with The Clash at the Us Festival


 
Steve Wozniak may have co-founded Apple, but it was his notorious “US Festival” that makes him one of the greatest rock promoters of our time. First held during Memorial Day weekend in 1982 at the Glen Helen Regional Park outside of Los Angeles, the US Festival (or “Unite us in Song”) was a hopeful outlook toward the coming future and a departure from the “Me Decade” that was the 1970s.
 
At the time, “Woz” was on leave from Apple after surviving a plane crash that left him unable to create new memories for half a year. Hoping to put together the “Super Bowl of Rock Parties” with a lineup of the best acts in rock music, Wozniak teamed up with heavy-hitter San Francisco promoter Bill Graham to help with the booking. Acts like The Police, Talking Heads, The B52s, Oingo Boingo, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Pat Benatar, Fleetwood Mac, and Jackson Browne all performed over three days. In addition to music, the festival was to feature the latest technological and scientific innovations at an on-site expo, while satellites linked attendees with those watching in the Soviet Union. The US Festival was also the first music event in history to use jumbo screens for unobstructed views.
 

 
High ticket prices ($37.50 for three days) and 112-degree heat made the inaugural US Festival a commercial flop. Dedicated to his vision, Wozniak was quick to begin working on his second US Festival, held over Memorial Day weekend in 1983. This time around, Colorado promoter Barry Fey assisted with the booking and they separated each day by genre: New Wave, Heavy Metal, and Rock. The biggest draw of the festival was Heavy Metal Day and its headliner Van Halen, with a record-setting 375,000 tickets sold. Motley Crüe’s Vince Neil referred to it as “The day new wave died and rock ‘n’ roll took over.”
 

 
Van Halen set another world record at the US Festival: “highest amount paid to an act for a single performance.” The Guinness World Book of Records even had to invent a new category in order to include them in the 1984 edition. The group was originally intended to make $1 million on the gig, but upon finding out that the late lineup addition of David Bowie also cost $1 million, Van Halen demanded $500,000 more or they weren’t going to perform. Wozniak agreed, in part due to a favored-nation clause in their contract that stated they were to be paid more than any other act at the festival. Van Halen arrived to their set three hours late and completely obliterated. David Lee Roth was so drunk that he could barely recite the lyrics to the band’s songs.
 
Read what promoter Barry Fey had to say about Van Halen’s fee increase (courtesy of the OC Register):
 

“The festival was completely booked,” Fey recalls, “and Van Halen had a favored-nation clause in their contract that said no one could get more than them – and they were getting $1 million. Then Steve came to me and said, ‘God, Barry, I really love David Bowie.’ I say, ‘Steve, there’s no room. Let’s put this to bed.’ And he says, ‘Well, I really do love David … could you try? It is my money and my festival.’” So Fey called Bowie, who was then touring Europe a month after the release of his blockbuster album Let’s Dance. He would return that August for two sold-out shows at Angel Stadium. “David tells me: ‘We’ll have to interrupt our tour and charter a 747 to bring our equipment and get it right back again.’ So I went to Steve: ‘David’s gonna cost you a million and a half, but it’s gonna cost you an extra half a million for Van Halen.’ He just shrugged his shoulders: ‘So?’ The addition of Bowie ultimately cost $2 million.”

 
Van Halen wasn’t the only problematic headliner at the US Festival. Closing out the first day were guerrilla punk-rockers The Clash, who promised their own political objections to the event. Upon discovering Van Halen’s ludicrous guarantee, band leader Joe Strummer demanded that Wozniak and some of the bigger acts donate a portion of their proceeds to charity. When it was discovered that the ticket price had raised unbeknownst to them, The Clash refused to play unless Apple donated $100,000 to charity. Their guarantee was $500,000.
 

 
Two hours after their proposed set time, The Clash finally took the stage. Projected on the screen behind them was a banner that read “THE CLASH NOT FOR SALE.” Their set was intense, sloppy, and there was a perceived hostility between band members and with the crowd. It was believed that this tension arose from a conflicting abandonment of their punk ethos, while accepting such a large festival payout on the wave of success that was 1982’s Combat Rock. Also, they really hated Van Halen. Throughout the set Strummer demanded hostility from a lackluster audience, stating his disgust in an event that was not focused on the future, but rather on commercialization and big profits. He also mentioned that his band wasn’t walking with what they deserved in comparison to the others, to which the fed-up festival organizers retaliated with fury. Soon afterward, The Clash’s check was projected on the big screen, showing the audience that the non-commercial freedom fighters in front of them were walking with an exuberant payment of half a million dollars. After their set, the band got into a physical altercation with security and refused to play an encore.
 
Four months after the US Festival, guitarist and co-vocalist Mick Jones was kicked out of The Clash. This was his last performance with the band before being replaced by guitarists Nick Sheppard and Vince White. It was also the final performance by Stan Ridgway with Wall of Voodoo. The Clash went on to release one final album Cut the Crap in 1985, before disbanding in early 1986. The US Festival did not return for a third edition in 1984, and it was reported that Wozniak lost $20 million dollars of his own money on the event over two years. Barry Fey regarded it as the “The most expensive backstage pass in history.”

Steve Jobs thought Wozniak was crazy.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Bennett Kogon
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01.03.2018
02:23 pm
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Over four hours of incredible Van Halen demos—get them while you can
09.12.2016
09:44 am
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Get on this before the suits have it taken down.

Some Internet saint has done us all the favor of uploading four hours and ten minutes worth of Van Halen demos. This is seriously a treasure trove for any fan of David Lee Roth-era Van Halen. The demos range from 1974 to 1984, though some unconfirmed sources say the “Glitter” demo on here may actually be as early as 1973.

Prior to this, I had only ever heard the (fantastic) Gene Simmons-produced Zero demo and the 1977 Warner Brothers demo. This upload has all that and SO MUCH MORE.

What’s remarkable about these demos is the fact that Van Halen mined these early songs for all six of their albums with David Lee Roth. Whereas most bands will blow their wad on their first record, Van Halen seemed to be intentionally SAVING good songs for use on future albums.

Much, much more Van Halen, after the jump…

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Posted by Christopher Bickel
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09.12.2016
09:44 am
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Van Halen wanted to crush a Volkswagen Beetle with a tank in 1979… just to piss off Aerosmith
08.22.2016
08:59 am
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Van Halen on top of a Sherman tank at the CaliFFornia World Music Festival in LA, 1979.
 
Today’s rock and roll history lesson comes courtesy of David Lee Roth’s highly entertaining 2000 autobiography Crazy From the Heat in which DLR recalls the details about the time VH rented a Sherman tank so they could destroy a vintage VW Bug—all to spite Aerosmith. According to Roth the occasion would mark the last time that he would ever speak to Steven Tyler, Joe Perry and the rest of the boys in Aerosmith. Say what you want about Aerosmith but if you’ve got Boston blood flowing through your veins then you also know how to hold a wicked long-term grudge, pal.
 

Van Halen at the CaliFFornia World Music Festival, 1979.
 
The story goes that back in 1979 were a part of the CaliFFornia World Music Festival held at the LA Coliseum and on the second night of the two-day festival Van Halen was co-headlining the gig with Aerosmith—who would to on to temporarly implode six-months later after the release of their sixth record Night in the Ruts (or as we called it back in the day in Boston “Right in the Nuts”). In an effort to one-up Aerosmith, the troublemakers in Van Halen cooked up a plan that involved renting a Sherman tank from a local Hollywood prop shop and the purchase of a couple of yellow VW Beetles. The idea was that announcements made over the Coliseum’s PA system would lay the groundwork for folks to think that one of the members of Aerosmith parked the Bug illegally and were asking for it to be moved. The “punchline” in all this excessive craziness was that the tank would roll out just as Van Halen took the stage, crushing the Bug to bits. Sadly someone in VH’s camp must have been a Boston native because Aerosmith caught wind of Van Halen’s shenanigans and had already come up with a plan of their own to one-up the tank gag and VH aborted their awesome caper.

Since Van Halen does not fuck around when it comes to fucking around they actually tested out the prank by having a hired driver roll the tank down some stairs over one of the yellow Beetles which sent debris hurtling in all directions including one of the doors that Roth still has in his massive collection of Van Halen related artifacts. Luckily a few images of the mighty VH riding on top of the tank and Roth taking a swipe at the pile of rubble that was formerly a VW bug like the charming ringmaster of mayhem that he is exist which I’ve posted below. In my mind if VH had actually pulled this one off the already dangerously drug-addled Aerosmith might have called it a day right then and there and we never would have had to endure the shambolic record that is Night in the Ruts (full disclosure—I love that record and I welcome your hate mail). I’ve included some other photos taken at the festival like the little people security detail “employed” by Van Halen and a few other gems that will make you wish you were there yourself (though I’m sure that at least a few of our DM readers probably were).
 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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08.22.2016
08:59 am
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Thundertrain: The band that was ‘Hot for Teacher’ before Van Halen
08.15.2016
04:46 pm
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The cover of the 1976 single ‘Hot for Teacher’ by Boston rockers, Thundertrain.
 
Bands like Thundertrain aren’t made—they are born and the group entered the Boston rock scene back in the mid-70s with a sonic boom. Thundertrain’s heavy-blended jams are full of fuzzy glam grooves and a hard rock mean streak like the kind of riffy juice that runs through the veins of Chuck Berry. To this day they are still revered back east and it’s not hard to understand why as Thundertrain did a great job of “making it up” as they went along back in the 70s. But the topic at hand is the band’s “connection” to Van Halen—specifically when it comes to a song you could probably recite the lyrics to in your sleep, “Hot for Teacher.”
 

The cover of Thundertrain’s ‘Teenage Suicide’ album released in 1977.
 
According to an 2003 interview with vocalist Mach Bell (aka Mark Bell), back when Thundertrain was out on the road sometime in the mid-to-late 70s Van Halen apparently requested that the band open for them at a gig at the famed Agora Ballroom in Cleveland. So imagine what Bell thought when 1984 rolled around and he heard a song that instantly became synonymous with Van Halen—the adrenalin-charged “Hot for Teacher.” A song with the exact same title as what most fans consider to be Thundertrain’s biggest hit in their too short career. Despite the fact that Boston was a veritable hot bed when it came to its mid-70s musical exports (bands like Aerosmith, The Modern Lovers and Boston), and even though “Hot for Teacher hit #3 in the UK alternative charts in 1977, Thundertrain never got the break they deserved and the band called it a night in 1980.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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08.15.2016
04:46 pm
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The Nightmare Before Halloween: Insane early Van Halen set from 1977
07.14.2016
10:29 am
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The original lineup of the mighty Van Halen standing on the steps of David Lee Roth’s Pasadena mansion.
 

We try to look like the music sounds.

—David Lee Roth, 1977.

After leaving their disco pimping days as the house band for LA rock club Gazzarri’s back in the late 70s Van Halen would go on to play the Pasadena Civic Auditorium on nearly a monthly basis to thousands of enthusiastic air guitarists and other awestruck fans before exploding into mega-stardom. The audio from this performance recorded on October 15th, 1977—VH’s last at the PCA—will send chills down your spine as the quality is nearly beyond compare. As are the ear-piercing vocals of David Lee Roth that team up seamlessly with the on-point brightness of backing vocals from bassist Michael Anthony (a sound I sorely miss since Anthony departed VH).

Here’s Van Halen’s manager Marshall Berle (nephew of comedian Milton Berle) echoing my feelings about one of the band’s performances at the PCA in a quote from the 2011 book by photographer Neil Zlozwer’s on guitar mangler and musical virtuoso, Eddie Van Halen:

The lights went down and the announcer introduced Van Halen and the kids went nuts and started screaming. They started playing and the hair on the back of my neck stood up. I got a chill right through my bones. I had never seen anything like this in my life. These guys were so good I almost crapped my pants. I thought “what the fuck is this?”

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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07.14.2016
10:29 am
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Van Halen cover Bowie and KC & The Sunshine Band (while judging a dance contest!) in the 70s
05.19.2016
10:02 am
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Van Halen during their ‘house band’ era at the Sunset Strip club, Gazzarri’s (mid-1970s).
 

“One day, we’re going to be the the Kings of Gazzarri’s.”

—A teenage David Lee Roth accurately predicting Van Halen’s future

 
The person who uploaded the audio of Van Halen performing as a “cover band” places the year at 1975—not long after VH had transitioned from the name Mammoth, and were in the process of blowing the fuck up after Sunset Strip club Gazzarri’s (RIP) gave the band their first big break.
 

David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen on stage at Gazzarri’s, mid-70s.
 
 
An early shot of Van Halen and the band’s first logo design created by original VH bassist, Mark Stone (Stone is pictured to the far left).
 
And when I say big break, I mean that before Gazzarri’s, DLR and the boys were literally playing house parties and high schools. After getting the green-light to play Gazzarri’s by the club’s owner, Bill Gazzarri (who initially didn’t like the band, he later maintained that Van Halen was the best band to every play there), the band became Gazzarri’s house band playing the club several nights a week and would often run the dance contests held at Sunset Strip club. VH vocalist David Lee Roth recalls that in addition to getting paid $75-$125 bucks a night, another perk was getting to watch Gazzarri’s famous “Go-Go” dancers who also performed at the club regularly. It was a huge upgrade from their usual gigs. 1975 sounds like it was a pretty sweet time if your name was (or was associated with), “Van Halen.”

VH drummer Alex Van Halen remembers that the “crowd” at the band’s first gig at Gazzarri’s consisted of about four fans. Van Halen would go on to play approximately 90 gigs at Gazzarri’s to ever-growing crowds before Eddie Van Halen told Bill Gazzarri that they were “never going to get anywhere” by honing their ability to kick out disco jams like the 1975 hit by KC and the Sunshine band, “Get Down Tonight.” And as much as I love that song (I don’t judge and neither should you), he wasn’t wrong. Sometime in 1976 KROQ DJ Rodney Bingenheimer met up with KISS loudmouth Gene Simmons to see one of VH’s gigs at Gazzarri’s. Simmons dug what he heard and got the band to record a demo, but things didn’t pan out. Luckily, Warner Brothers Records producer Ted Templeman (the famous voice behind the line “Come on Dave, give me a break” from the Van Halen’s 1981 classic “Unchained”) caught a live gig of the still under-the-radar band, and ushered the boys into the studio to record what would become VH’s seminal debut record, 1978’s Van Halen.

As I’m a huge fan of digging up interesting historical rock and roll artifacts, I have to say I was super entertained listening to 32 minutes of the then-emerging young Van Halen covering songs by David Bowie (specifically “The Jean Genie” during which Roth amusingly confesses to forgetting the lyrics), Led Zeppelin, ZZ Top, and “Twist and Shout”—all while emceeing one of Gazzarri’s many dance contests. While the audio isn’t good (and the band doesn’t really sound that great either), it truly has its priceless moments. Mostly due the antics of the then just 21-year-old “Mr. Entertainment” David Lee Roth. I’ve included a number of photos of Van Halen’s days at Gazzarri’s as well as a few cool other artifacts from that mythical time when it seemed that most people in LA didn’t know who Van Halen was. Yet.
 
Much more early Van Halen after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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05.19.2016
10:02 am
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‘Whoooo!’ Watch this ridiculously over-the-top David Lee Roth karate kick compilation
01.05.2016
08:46 am
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This is so dumb, but by the end of it I was nearly hyperventilating from laughing so hard.

Some genius put together this superb supercut of David Lee Roth jumps and kicks—which would have been amusing enough on its own—but then they took it completely over-the-top with the addition of grunts, whoops, and yells pilfered from Roth’s “Runnin’ With the Devil” vocal take.
 

“Whoooo!”
 
By now everyone’s probably heard the hilarious acapella track from the sessions of Van Halen‘s debut album. It’s taken on an Internet life of its own, first as a viral YouTube video, and then having been used in countless mashups (including the “Can Halen” track we wrote about a couple of months ago), and even as the soundtrack to a David Lee Roth-themed, asteroids-inspired video game. But THIS, my friends, is by far the best use of that track yet.

The video starts to get REALLY good about 40 seconds in as it reaches a fever pitch. I absolutely lose it on the “Oh God!” at 1:03.
 

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Can Halen: Some genius mashed up David Lee Roth with everyone’s favorite Krautrock band

Posted by Christopher Bickel
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01.05.2016
08:46 am
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Can Halen: Some genius mashed up David Lee Roth with everyone’s favorite Krautrock band
11.16.2015
08:32 am
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This is totally a one-note joke, but it could also be argued that Diamond Dave is a one-note singer.

YouTube user and goddamned genius Jim Haney took that Van Halen vocals-only track from “Runnin’ With the Devil” that’s been floating around the Internet for a few years and laid it over the top of an edited version of Can’s “Mother Sky.”

The result is magical.

This is the dumbest, most crucial thing you’ll hear all day:
 

Posted by Christopher Bickel
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11.16.2015
08:32 am
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‘They tried to make us look like the Clash!’ Van Halen’s rejected first album cover
01.19.2015
06:08 pm
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Here’s a wonderful story reported by Greg Renoff over at Ultimate Classic Rock. Today we think of Van Halen and the Clash as occupying very distinct places in the hard rock firmament. Influenced by Jamaican reggae, the Clash is all about anger, political resistance, and liberation, while super-noodly arena-rock heroes Van Halen boogies to a decidedly sexier party backbeat. But that wasn’t so clear to the executives trying to figure out how to position Eddie, David Lee and the gang. At the time of Van Halen’s self-titled first album in February 1978, one of the most visible bands in the world was the Clash, whose own self-titled first album had been shaking things up for almost a year. 

It wasn’t like Van Halen was unfamiliar with punk and its cousin, new wave—on the contrary. Punk had long since hit the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, and Van Halen had been in lineups at the Whisky à Go Go nightclub with bands like the Mumps, the Dogs, and the Motels. In a meeting with Warner Bros., the first stab at the album cover was presented—and it was a disaster. Not only had the designers misunderstood the band’s name to be Vanhalen, but the downbeat photo—Michael Anthony looks like he’s just eaten a bad Quaalude or something—placed Alex Van Halen in the foreground while natural ham David Lee Roth is practically snoozing in the background.
 

 
It didn’t take long for manager Marshall Berle and the band to reject the cover. As Eddie would later tell Guitar World, “They tried to make us look like the Clash. We said, ‘Fuck this shit!’”

After absorbing Van Halen’s criticisms of the preliminary cover art, Warner Bros. hired photographer Elliot Gilbert to shoot the band onstage at the Whisky, which made for a completely different impression. Eddie is waving his famous Frankenstrat around like he’s Nigel Tufnel or somebody. Add Dave Bhang’s silver, winged VH logo and you had a glitzy, balls-out look that was perfect for the new cocks on the walk. Eddie later said that after the band saw the logo, they “made [Warner Bros.] put it on the album so that it would be clear that we had nothing to do with the punk movement. It was our way of saying ‘Hey we’re just a fucking rock and roll band, don’t try and slot us with the Sex Pistols thing just because it’s becoming popular.’”

Here’s Van Halen on the Clash’s turf, London, at the Hammersmith Odeon on June 1, 1978, playing one of the best tracks off the debut, “Little Dreamer”:
 

Posted by Martin Schneider
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01.19.2015
06:08 pm
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Images from the L.A. rock scene of 1978 to 1989


Demonstrating for Quiet Riot, 1979. Photo: Ken Papaleo
 
As a New Yorker I’ve sometimes asked myself why Los Angeles often didn’t appear to produce as many good musical acts as its size might lead you to expect. This was in the 1990s and after, when the closest answer to “What’s L.A.‘s answer to the Pixies?” might well have been “the Red Hot Chili Peppers,” which isn’t a great answer. My indie-rock bias and physical distance from the L.A. scene aren’t the only factors that would lead me to underrate what the city has produced, another one would be time. If you jump back just a decade or two, L.A.‘s music scene was as vital as anything the country had to offer, what with Minutemen, Black Flag, the Go-Go’s, RHCP, X, and the Dickies, not to mention such hard rock stalwarts as Van Halen, Faster Pussycat, Motley Crüe, and Guns ‘n’ Roses. And that only scratches the surface, as an invigorating new photo exhibition suggests.

Opening yesterday, the Los Angeles Public Library has a remarkable exhibition dedicated to throwing open the library’s Herald Examiner archives (as well as the Gary Leonard collection) for the years 1978 to 1989. The show features iconic shots of talents as diverse as Eddie Van Halen and Eazy-E as well as countless other important vital contributors to the L.A. music scene. At its best, L.A. music possessed a theatricality and immediate legibility that other cities may have lacked. Not sure what exactly that quality was, but the word “glitz” has been used so often to describe L.A. that we’ll just go with that one. And yet glitz had nothing whatsoever to do with the trenchant and incendiary punk of Minutemen or Black Flag or Descendents. Los Angeles is 100 neighborhoods in search of a city, and its music scene reflects that too, in a good way.

The exhibition is called “From Pop to the Pit: LAPL Photo Collection Celebrates the Los Angeles Music Scene, 1978-1989,” and it can be visited at the History & Genealogy Department of the Central Library location at 630 W. 5th Street through June 28. In addition to the acts shown here, the exhibition covers such diverse musical talents as Jetboy, All, the Runaways, Burning Tree, Faster Pussycat, the Nymphs, X, and the Unforgiven.

The show features an attractive catalog that runs a very affordable $13.75 on Amazon.
 

Dream Syndicate, ca. 1982. Photo: Dean Musgrove
 

Minutemen, 1983. Photo: James Ruebsamen
 

The Go-Gos, 1981. Photo: Anne Knudsen
 
More after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Martin Schneider
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01.09.2015
11:46 am
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Six-year-old drums to Van Halen’s ‘Hot For Teacher’
04.02.2013
02:04 pm
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You might have seen this little dude’s videos making the rounds before: His name is Avery… and he’s a 6-year-old drumming machine!

Here’s Avery pounding along to Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher.” As one friend of mine commented on this video:

“My children cannot do this. I feel like I failed somehow as a parent.”

Posted by Tara McGinley
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04.02.2013
02:04 pm
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