Van Halen was one of the glam metal music groups from the 1980s and had one of the best, most popular guitarists ever. They also had three different lead vocalists, who each influenced the group in some way. First there was the energetic and charismatic David Lee Roth, who led the music group to their big success. I don’t know whether his ego or penchant for bedding any woman in sight was more prevalent. Then along came Sammy Hagar who was more professional than David Lee Roth and led Van Halen to releasing several number one chart topping albums in a row with 5150, OU812, Balance and and one of my favorite Van Halen albums with the leering title, For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. During the mid 1990s when grunge as prevalent and 1980s metal groups were dropping like flies, a bad decade for music, Van Halen made the mistake of drastically trying to change their sound. Eddie Van Halen actually played acoustic piano on stage during a concert for an infamous song called How Many Say I? Gary Cherone was their vocalist for their weakest album called Van Halen III in the 1990s, but the album still had several good songs such as Without You, Ballot or the Bullet, Dirty Water Dog and Fire In the Hole because no Van Halen album no matter how weak is completely bad.
Van Halen released a very successful debut album in 1978 called Van Halen. They toured while opening for Black Sabbath and became popular for Eddie Van Halen’s incredible guitar playing and David Lee Roth’s flamboyant antics. Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth’s abilities would later cause them to become rivals. A couple of big songs from their first album were Running With the Devil and a guitar solo called Eruption, which showcased Eddie Van Halen’s guitar playing technique called finger tapping. They then released their second album called creatively enough Van Halen II, other music groups such as Chicago and Led Zeppelin also had numbers for the titles of their first several albums, and they released their first successful single called Dance the Night Away.
Van Halen for several years alternated albums with concerts. They made Women and Children First, which further established them as a great group. However, during Fair Warning Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth were at odds with each other because Eddie Van Halen wanted to make dark music while David Lee Roth wanted to make more poppish music. David Lee Roth eventually gave in to Eddie Van Halen’s wishes and Fair Warning became their darkest album yet. Diver Down was a more successful album and Van Halen made it into the Guiness Book of World Records for being paid the highest amount for a single performance, one and a half million dollars, at the 1983 US Festival. However, tension continued between Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth, which caused friction with other band members. Eddie Van Halen was considering having Michael Anthony, the bass player, replaced at this time but it didn’t happen. Then Van Halen was approached to make the sound track with keyboard work that they had done on their last two albums for a movie called The Wild Life.
1984 was the peak of Van Halen’s success. They had four big songs released on the same album; Jump, Hot For Teacher, I’ll Wait and Panama. Three of the songs had successful music videos. Jump was the only song they had made that made it to number one on the pop charts and earned them a grammy nomination. 1984 made it to number two on the album charts behind Michael Jackson’s Thriller album, which has sold the highest number of copies ever at one hundred and twenty eight million and is almost impossible to beat in sales.
During 1984 tensions between David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen led to David Lee Roth leaving the group. Whether David Lee Roth was fired or quit depends on the band member who is interviewed. David Lee Roth was becoming tired of Eddie Van Halen making music for other projects without checking with the group first and with his drug addiction. Eddie Van Halen was becoming tired of David Lee Roth’s flamboyant persona. David Lee Roth had made an EP with a cover of California Girls on his own and was planned to be in a movie called Crazy From the Heat that he wanted Eddie Van Halen to make music for.
Van Halen got Sammy Hagar to replace David Lee Roth who had made it bit with a song called I Can’t Drive 55 on his VOA album that Sammy Hagar made in 1984. Sammy Hagar and Van Halen had the same producer named Ted Templeman. Sammy Hagar served both vocals and rhythm guitar for the group to add to the Van Halen sound. Van Halen’s first album with Sammy Hagar on vocals made it to number one and was called 5150. Van Halen also changed the logo by adding a ring to it to signify that they had a new line up in the group.
They had a tour called the 1986 tour as an homage to the 1984 album they had to support their 1984 album. Sammy Hagar wanted to eliminate most of the David Lee Roth songs with Van Halen except for the classics and play mostly the newer songs that he had made with Van Halen. While Van Halen made music with Sammy Hagar they had four albums reach the number one, seventeen singles make it into the top twelve for hard rock songs and Sammy Hagar won a grammy for best vocals on For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. It wasn’t until Van Halen was making music for the sound track for Twister that a riff occurred between Eddie Van Halen and Sammy Hagar because Eddie Van Halen rewrote the lyrics for Humans Being while claiming Sammy Hagar’s lyrics were too cheesy and Sammy Hagar did not want to make sound track music because it would be hard for fans to get. Sammy Hagar left Van Halen on Father’s Day in 1996.
Van Halen replaced Sammy Hagar with Gary Cherone. They made Van Halen III, which focused on longer, more experimental songs and ballads. The album sold poorer than other albums only reaching gold status. However, they did have a hit song called Without You and Fire In the Hole made it onto the Lethal Weapon 4 sound track. They were going to make another album with Gary Cherone, but Van Halen III’s poor sales led to them splitting apart amicably. There was poor attendance for Van Halen’s concerts with Gary Cherone and Warner Brothers made Van Halen split up with Gary Cherone according to Eddie Van Halen. The break up was amicable and they were able to remain good friends. Ironically, the best guy out of the three vocalists was also the weakest vocalist for Van Halen.
Van Halen went through three different phases with three lead singers, David Lee Roth helped them to success, Sammy Hagar kept them successful and Gary Cherone while a good guy who Van Halen really liked was part of their decline. David Lee Roth returned to Van Halen in the early 2010s and they made a new album spring of 2012 called a Different Kind of Truth, which led to a comeback and a tour with me having the opportunity to attend their first concert with my dad in Louisville Kentucky February 2012, one of my three favorite semesters while in college.