How I Became Such a Big Van Halen Fan
I'll admit I was a little late to the Van Halen party. I knew some of their songs, but it wasn't until 1984 came out that I really became a big fan. I had heard the songs that were played on the radio before, but when 1984 hit the radio and MTV, that's when I finally really took notice.
I was 15 when Jump was released and everyone in high school was really into that song. I bought the album the week it was released and instantly fell in love with it. My brother Gene turned me onto Van Halen 1 and Van Halen 2, and I thought those albums were awesome as well. Again I knew some of those songs from being played on the radio, but I enjoyed every song off both of them.
Then I learned they had three more albums that were released between the first two and 1984, out so I had to go out and buy Women & Children First, Fair Warning, and Diver Down. At that point, Van Halen became my favorite band.
It was shortly after the 1984 Tour wrapped up that David Lee Roth decided to leave the band to pursue a solo career as well as an acting career. I thought my favorite band was done. There were reports that Van Halen was talking to people like Patty Smyth and that they were toying with the idea of having a different singer on each song on a new Van Halen album, including Phil Collins from Genesis.
Then the name Sammy Hagar popped up and there was talk that Van Halen might record an album with Sammy. When Sammy's V.O.A. album came out, I bought that and was impressed with that as well. I knew some of his other songs that were played on the radio like I'll Fall In Love Again and Your Love Is Driving Me Crazy, but that was about all I knew.
One day my brother and I were talking about Van Halen and the possibility of Sammy joining the band. Gene asked me if I ever heard of Montrose. My first response was Montrose, Pennsylvania? He said no the band Montrose, you know the songs Rock Candy and Bad Motor Scooter? And he informed me that Sammy was lead singer of that band back in the 70s. So I got my hands on Montrose's first album and I was blown away. And I started thinking that if Van Halen sounded like Montrose that would be an awesome combination.
So I went all in. I went out and bought all of Sammy Hagar's solo albums, and that had me psyched up for the release of 5150. I could not wait for that album to come out. I remember working at a welding shop in Throop, Pennsylvania, not too far from Scranton, when Why Can't This Be Love was released to radio. While at work, every time the DJ said here's the new Van Halen song, or we just heard the opening notes, either I or one other guy I worked with that was a huge VH fan, would run over to the radio hand crank it up as loud as it will go.
The day 5150 was released, I went to the store and bought it. I played it over and over until I knew the words to every song. By the time OU812 came around, I was a huge fan of the Sammy version of Van Halen. After a couple of singles off that album were released, I began working in radio and I was playing the new singles form that album, and every Van Halen album from that point forward.
So if I had to sum up how I got turned onto Van Halen, it was the radio, my high school classmates, and my late brother Gene.
I’ve been listening to nothing but Van Halen for the last three days. Once I get home from work, I just grab my iPod, click on Van Halen, and then shuffle. I have just about every Van Halen song on there.
Eddie Van Halen truly was a friggin' genius.