Monday, November 17, 2014

Van Halen

Flashback to 1983 with me for just a moment. A time just before the arrival of Digital Music. Van Halen's "Jump" and "Panama" was getting lots of play on the airwaves. The songs were being played at just about every social function I attended. Fond memories. Flash forward to 1999. My (now ex) husband would often be found sitting and crying (yes, crying!) watching his VHS copy of "Eruption" where Eddie Van Halen would play this magnificent guitar solo. Also in 1999, we had the opportunity to catch David Lee Roth in concert at Portland's Rose Garden, where David Lee Roth forgot the lyrics to "Panama" half way through the song. But that's a story for another day..

The original Van Halen back in 1977

Van Halen is an American rock band formed in Pasadena, California, in 1972. From 1974 until 1985, the band comprised guitarist Eddie Van Halen, vocalist David Lee Roth, drummer Alex Van Halen, and bassist Michael Anthony. This line-up was changed when Roth was succeeded as vocalist by Sammy Hagar.

The band went on to further success, and by the early 1980s they were one of the most successful rock acts of the time. 1984 was their most successful album. The lead single, "Jump", became an international hit and their only single to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100. The following singles, "Panama" and "I'll Wait", both hit number 13 on the US charts. The album went on to sell over 12 million copies in the US alone. In 1985, the band replaced lead singer David Lee Roth with ex-Montrose lead vocalist Sammy Hagar. With Hagar, the group would release four US number-one albums over the course of 11 years. Hagar left the band in 1996 shortly before the release of the band's first greatest hits collection, Best Of Volume 1. Former Extreme frontman Gary Cherone was quickly recruited as lead singer to replace Hagar, and Van Halen III was released in 1998. Cherone left the band in frustration in 1999 after the tour due to the poor commercial performance of the album.

Michael Anthony, Alex Van Halen,
Eddie Van Halen and Sammy Hagar, 1983
Van Halen went on hiatus until 2003 when they reunited with Hagar for a worldwide tour. The reunited band released a second greatest hits collection the following year, The Best Of Both Worlds. Like Volume I before it, The Best of Both Worlds included material from both the Roth and Hagar eras but omitted any Cherone era tracks. The album featured three brand new tracks recorded by the reunited band, two of which were released as singles. Hagar again left Van Halen in 2005 and in 2006, Roth returned as lead vocalist for their highest-grossing tour, and one of the highest-grossing tours of that year. Anthony was not invited to participate in the tour and was essentially fired from the band, replaced by Wolfgang Van Halen, Eddie's son. In 2012, the band released the commercially and critically successful, A Different Kind Of Truth, with Roth as lead vocalist. According to the RIAA, Van Halen is the 19th-best-selling band/artist in United States history, selling 56 million albums in the U.S. They were also revealed at number 4 on the Billboard's top money makers list in 2013. Van Halen is one of only five rock bands that have had two studio albums sell more than 10 million copies in the U.S. Additionally, Van Halen charted the most number-one hits in the history of Billboard '​s Mainstream Rock chart and they are one of the world's best-selling bands of all time, having sold more than 80 million records.
Eddie Van Halen's son - Wolfgang Van Halen

Van Halen achieved worldwide fame for their many popular songs and larger-than-life stage performances; unfortunately, they also became known for the drama surrounding the departures of former members. Controversy surrounded the band following the exits of Roth, Hagar,and Anthony; this controversy often included numerous conflicting press statements between the former members and the band. In 2007, Van Halen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. VH1 ranked them 7th on their list of the top 100 hard rock artists of all time.

"Panama" was reportedly written about a car. According to David Lee Roth this was because critics accused him of writing about nothing more than partying, sex, and cars, but Roth realized that he had yet to write a song about cars. In an interview with Howard Stern, Roth explained the meaning behind the trademark song. Although the song features some suggestive lyrics, it is about a car that Roth saw race in Las Vegas; its name was "Panama Express", hence the title of the song. This, however, is contradictory to a previous remark made by Roth during a backstage interview during Van Halen's 1985 tour. There was no mention of the song being about a car and not more of the usual Van Halen material.

Panama was the name of Roth's car. He had the hood and bumper mounted in his hallway, which can be seen in his video for "SHOOBop" (video found at http://youtu.be/19QCzwafsm8). He has a stuffed deer's behind crashing through the front windshield. A plaque underneath reads, "Your First deer, courtesy of PANAMA."

During the bridge of the song where Roth says "I can barely see the road from the heat comin' off of it," guitarist Eddie Van Halen can be heard revving his Lamborghini in the background. The car was backed up to the studio and microphones were attached to the exhaust pipe to record the sound for the song.

http://youtu.be/w-NshzYK9y0