Van Halen: The True Story
By Life & Times guest blogger Tony Taylor
Since May of 1996 I have begun each and every day of my life with a ritual of first checking my email and secondly going to a website called vhnd.com. This stands for Van Halen News Desk. I realized that last week that I have spent each weekday of the last 10 years of my life keeping up with what I consider the greatest rock and roll band to ever come of out the States. Ever since I was a kid, I remember being in second grade and seeing all the 7th and 8th graders scrawling the classic VH logo all over their book covers, jeans, walls and anywhere else that would piss off our parents. Last week when Van Halen announced a tour with original singer David Lee Roth, I already started planning weekends in Chicago, and Charlotte to see shows and have already gotten my New York tickets. The people I know that get it, get it and the rest that do not understand how monumental this occasion is don’t understand the power of rock. When I was growing up, Rock and Roll was an event. In the 80s when The Who or The Stones came to your town, EVERYONE KNEW. Everyone wore the t shirts, bought the LPs, bought the pins for their denim jackets and it was good. When you were a kid in the Midwest and bought a Van Halen album you went to California.
This is a band that you knew about maybe because of their videos, maybe because of who their guitarist was married to or maybe because like me you just connected to the music and no matter what was going on in your life, if you were happy it made you elated and if you were feeling down, it made things sunnier. These songs made you feel invincible and remember who you were again. The story of this band is like an epic poem. You have two brothers that are half Dutch and half Malaysian coming to this country on a boat from Holland at ages 8 and 10 with 75 Dutch Guilders, a piano, and the little clothes they could afford. Their father would work as a janitor for 8 hours, a dishwasher for 8 hours, and then play Clarinet on weekends just to provide food and roof for his family. These kids couldn't communicate in English very well and were ostracized and begin spending all their time in their garage playing Cream and Dave Clark Five songs. A few years later they meet Michael Anthony and David Lee Roth (one of if not Rock’s greatest showman and frontman) and soon were playing backyard parties that would swell to 1,500 people to hear them play. This was rock and roll at its purest. They played at volumes that would make most American Idol contestants and judges cry and call their mothers to pick them up. To hear Edward Van Halen play guitar is like seeing Mozart or DeBussy. There is a connection between his heart and hands that defies explanation. They played the LA scene of the Whiskey and The Rainbow for years before getting discovered by Gene Simmons and went on to became the 19th highest selling artist in history. Around the world selling over 100 million albums. If the music doesn’t inspire you, hopefully the story does.
Labels: Life and Times: Tony Taylor