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Old 02-12-2017, 07:10 AM
WordMan WordMan is offline
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Book: Van Halen Rising - a scholarly fanboy rock bio

Link to Kindle edition:

What do you get when an academic historian is also a gushing Van Halen fanboy? This book is meticuoulsly researched. When you read about some backyard party in Pasadena in July of '75, there are, like, five cites for it. But the guy can write and clearly loves his subject while sticking to his craft.

He doesn't shy away from how awful David Lee Roth was as a singer and how the brothers rejected him. It makes DLR's force of will that much more apparent, and his contributions to the band take on more color when you see how he came to it.

I hadn't appreciated how late in their ramp up to the top that Eddie's sound came together. His tapping technique is chased down from influences to his own approach. His creation of his Frankenstein parts guitar is not dug into in detail, but the fact that it shows up a mere 6 months before getting signed is fascinating. The tapping and whammy-bar dive bombs are part of his core sound, yet emerged relatively late.

It ends right after the first album explodes, and they go out on tour with a flagging Black Sabbath and wipe the floor with them. There is also an earlier concert discussed that I don't recall hearing about where they open for UFO, a favorite of mine, and EVH messes with Michael Schenker's head. Too much. Hagar is only discussed where he and his first band Montrose figures into VH's story.

A fun, fast read if you like the band.

Side note: in the book, Van Halen is regularly described as Heavy Metal alongside many other bands like AC/DC and Zep. Metal as we see it today is described as "traditional" etc.

I totally get the use of these phrases in this way - back in the day, it was how they were used. And, back in the day, VH is hugely responsible for getting hard rock guitar back on the charts. But I would never think of Van Halen or AC/DC as metal now - I think of them as hard rock. Yeah, VH is the proto Hair Metal band, but: a) VH was never really part of Hair Metal, to me - they transcended it; and b) Hair Metal isn't metal, really. It's commercial, poppy hard rock.
Old 02-13-2017, 06:59 AM
WordMan WordMan is offline
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A Monday-morning *bump*

Anyone read this? Think they might now that they have heard of it?
Old 02-13-2017, 07:48 AM
Tragically Dip Tragically Dip is offline
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: The Heartland
Posts: 105
I read this book as soon as it came out, being a huge DLR fanboy. I loved it because of the thoroughness and stories I had not heard before.

Mr. Renoff is very accessible on Twitter and answered other questions I had that were not directly addressed in the book. I highly recommend this read.
Old 02-13-2017, 10:15 AM
VanLandry VanLandry is offline
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: New England
Posts: 384
I read it and loved it. When they broke on the scene disco was in full swing and most producers never gave them(or any other guitar band) a chance. They really were a huge reason why guitar rock took off the way it did.

I believe DLR called it Big Rock in that it was hard rock that you could dance to... His influences totally mismatched with Ed's but together they formed this perfect combination of boom and groove. Also, unlike the existing 'heavy metal' bands their music was based on major chords and thus upbeat and more fun.

I was only seven when the debut Van Halen album was released but I would've loved to have attended one of those backyard parties. Growing up in New England we tended to party in the woods and while the police occasionally showed up and kicked us out it was not remotely close to their parties. Putting up flyers all over L.A. all but guaranteed 1000+ would attend. Dozens of cruisers and helicopters was not a question of if, but when they would show up.

I read it when it first came out but I may have to pick it back up and read it again.
Old 02-13-2017, 10:30 AM
WordMan WordMan is offline
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Nice to see I'm not alone! Yeah, it's really well researched and those backyard parties sound straight out of Dazed and Confused.
Old 02-13-2017, 10:42 AM
lieu lieu is offline
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Bedrock
Posts: 26,079
Now see, for Christmas why can't my in-laws give me books like this instead of the latest one by Bill O'Reilly?

Last edited by lieu; 02-13-2017 at 10:43 AM.
Old 02-13-2017, 11:14 AM
teela brown teela brown is offline
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Almost Silicon Valley
Posts: 9,007
When I lived in southern California, I worked with a young woman who was born and raised in Pasadena. She said that when she was a teenager, she was having a birthday party at her home, and some young men crashed it. One of them was clearing a coffee table and starting to line up coke on it. She was ineffectually trying to get them to leave when she realized it was David Lee Roth and his hangers-on. This was back in their early days, before the band was known nationally.
Old 02-14-2017, 12:12 PM
WordMan WordMan is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2001
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Apparently cocaine was referred to as "krell" in the band and got plenty of use. I never read DLR's memoir Crazy From the Heat* but it gets cited for a number of quotes about parties and abuse.

*should I? Given DLR's gift of gab, I assumed that if it was a good version of his storytelling, it would've hit my radar more.
Old 07-04-2017, 03:29 PM
WordMan WordMan is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 22,172
Bumping this thread. Read a Big Mac of a book by Van Halen's manager during their DLR heyday:

An interesting follow on because it picks up kinda when the earlier book leaves of. VH doesn't come off looking great, except for Michael Anthony lovable goof who takes all the abuse. A bot more insight on their personalities would be nice - on one hand Eddie curled up on this guy's lap as his manager father figure, but we never get a sense of why. But you see the emergence of difficult Dave, Eddie and alcoholic Alex. Not pretty.

One interest. Thing: a photo of a Jimi Hendrix poster featuring a logo that looks just like VH's logo. It seems that VH got the idea from Jimi; I had no idea.
Old 07-05-2017, 09:09 AM
No_Way_Jose No_Way_Jose is offline
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 15
I'm about half-way through it now... I liked VH from the get-go but I was only 13 when 1984 was released and that's when I really got into them and started listening to all of their albums. I literally wore out the cassettes including both the print on them and eventually the tape w/in them. I could still tell the difference between them because of how they were discolored.

It's interesting and bit depressing that by the time I was really into their music they were already spiraling out of control. I'm also not surprised about how Noel describes their personalities. I'm not sure if I ever read prior writings on them but each time Noel describes an incident* I think to myself, "Yeah, I can see that."

Good book and like you said, it takes over where 'Van Halen Rising' left off so we're getting a good look at the entire Van Halen/David Lee Roth era.

Lastly, I cant believe no one has come up with footage of 'them' parachuting over the crowd at Anaheim stadium.

*Like Edward breaking down and sobbing from home sickness while in Europe and wanting to go home.


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