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Van Halen

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Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

You didn't have to be a metalhead to love Van Halen, who managed to cover all the bases: They had a technically brilliant guitar-slinger, a flamboyant character of a lead singer (two of them, in fact), a fearsome rhythm section, and an equal flair for heavy riffs and infectious singles. A child prodigy who played drums and piano before switching to guitar, Eddie Van Halen grew up in Pasadena, playing in garage bands with his brother Alex on drums. Their early band Mammoth drew enough local buzz to attract lead singer David Lee Roth and bassist Michael Anthony; this would become the classic lineup and they changed their name to Van Halen in 1974. After a few years of club gigs they made a demo that caught the ear of Kiss co-leader Gene Simmons; whose recommendation helped get them signed to Warner Brothers. Their 1977 self-titled debut was produced by Ted Templeman (pf Doobie Brothers and Little Feat fame), who'd be aboard for most of their career. A near-immediate hit, that album largely defined hard rock and metal for the next decade with its massive studio sound and layered vocal harmonies; Van Halen's intense solos and Roth's mile-wide personality. Standout tracks "Runnin' With the Devil" and...

You didn't have to be a metalhead to love Van Halen, who managed to cover all the bases: They had a technically brilliant guitar-slinger, a flamboyant character of a lead singer (two of them, in fact), a fearsome rhythm section, and an equal flair for heavy riffs and infectious singles. A child prodigy who played drums and piano before switching to guitar, Eddie Van Halen grew up in Pasadena, playing in garage bands with his brother Alex on drums. Their early band Mammoth drew enough local buzz to attract lead singer David Lee Roth and bassist Michael Anthony; this would become the classic lineup and they changed their name to Van Halen in 1974. After a few years of club gigs they made a demo that caught the ear of Kiss co-leader Gene Simmons; whose recommendation helped get them signed to Warner Brothers. Their 1977 self-titled debut was produced by Ted Templeman (pf Doobie Brothers and Little Feat fame), who'd be aboard for most of their career. A near-immediate hit, that album largely defined hard rock and metal for the next decade with its massive studio sound and layered vocal harmonies; Van Halen's intense solos and Roth's mile-wide personality. Standout tracks "Runnin' With the Devil" and "Ain't Talking 'Bout Love" underlined the album's hedonistic mood; Van Halen's solo piece "Eruption" became a touchstone for a generation of newbie guitarists. For the next seven years the band seemed invincible, even when they tried a slighty darker approach on 1981's Fair Warning. Released on January 1 of that year, the album 1984 added a prominent synthesizer on "Jump," which became the band's only Number One single. Yet the band imploded on the followup tour, with Roth-who'd already had solo success with covers of the Beach Boys' "California Girls" and Louis Prima's "Just a Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody"-- choosing a full-time solo career. The first, unlikely choice for a replacement singer was Patty Smyth of Scandal (who didn't accept), but the job went to Sammy Hagar who'd had success both as a solo artist and as the frontman of Montrose. While the choice was controversial among the original fans, the band's run of arena-level success continued, with hit singles in "Why Can't This Be Love" and "When It's Love." As the titles indicate, both songs had a more mainstream pop-influenced sound, though the albums were still full of crunching rockers. Hagar's tenure wound up lasting eleven years, as long as Roth's had, and his departure in 1996 ushered in a long period of confusion. First Roth rejoined, but that only lasted long enough for one TV appearance and a couple of new songs for a greatest-hits CD. Then the band recruited its third singer, Extreme frontman Gary Cherone, who proved considerably less successful in the slot than his predecessors. He was out after one album and tour; Van Halen had hip surgery and then went into temporary seclusion, while Roth and Hagar did a 2002 joint tour without the rest of the band. Hagar then rejoined Van Halen and left again, clearing the way for Roth to rejoin once again-this time with Van Halen's son Wolfgang replacing Michael Anthony on bass.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

2.
 MTV's Spring Break '95 (1995) Performer ("Spring Break Rocks")
4.
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Milestones close milestones

1978:
Released debut album, <i>Van Halen</i>
1979:
Scored breakthrough hit "Dance the Night Away"
1984:
Released most successful album, <i>1984</i>
1985:
Replaced original lead singer David Lee Roth with Sammy Hagar
:
Popular songs include "Jump" and "Why Can't This Be Love".
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