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  1. #1
    Beloved Glenn's Avatar
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    THE HISTORY OF VAN HALEN

    In the early to mid 1950ís were born four musicians who would one day make music to rival the great artists of the 20th century; you know, Krokus, Stryper, Twisted Sister. And these were four men whose beginnings were very different from each other, creating a stew of talent that was only in need of a ladle to chum the world, not unlike Roy Scheider in JAWS. But Iím getting ahead of myself, letís take a look back in time and try to get a brief glimpse of where these men came from, and what made them Van Halen.

    MICHAEL ANTHONY

    Michael Anthony Sobolewski was born in Chicago Illinois on June 20, 1954, though Iíve also heard 1953 or 1955 as the date. This confusion, of course, goes hand in hand with the alleged stretching of truths to which David Lee Roth has been given credit. (Editorís Rant-But dammit, this paragraph is about Michael Anthony, not David Lee Roth; canít Mikey get one lousy paragraph in a discussion on the history of Van Halen before we veer off and dedicate another million words to the others? Is Michael not a vital cog in the machine? Is he not worth dissecting? If you prick him, does he not bleed? Does anyone know what the fuck Iím talking about?)

    Anyway, itís a little known fact that the father of Michael Anthony was himself a musician, a big band trumpet player. Thus, it was the trumpet that was the first musical instrument for young Michael. Oddly enough, it was a very perceptive (and some would say eerie) conversation with his father that lead Michael to the bass guitar, and to other changes. While still a junior high school student, one day Michael was in his bedroom practicing his trumpet when the elder Anthony entered;

    Mr. Sobolewski: "Son, itís Sunday afternoon, shouldnít you be in the park?"

    Michael: "Maybe later Pop, Iíve finally got my trumpet sounding like a backwards car horn!"

    Mr. Sobolewski: "Backwards car horn? Dammit son, Iíve been doing that for years, is that all the progress youíve made. You know, I think maybe youíve gone as far as you can go with that trumpet, maybe itís time you got a bass guitar."

    Michael: "A bass guitar, I donít know."

    Mr. Sobolewski: "Whatís not to know? You know your bodyís gonna bump when the bass man thumps!"

    Michael: "Right Dad, whatever you say, but could you stop talking like that, it scares me."

    Mr. Sobolewski: "Another thing son, your Mother and I have decided to move the family to Southern California. Chicago is great, but thereís gold in California, plus Janís kids, Edward and Alex."

    Michael: "First off Dad, you're a little late on the California gold rush, so you can stop wearing that coal minerís hat with the headlight in it. And who the hell are Jan, Edward and Alex?"

    Mr. Sobolewski: "Dammit boy, you ask too many questions! Havenít you ever seen the Godfather? Too many questions is likely to get you killed."

    Michael: "Dad, itís 1968, the Godfather doesnít come out until 1972. You really need to get back on your medication!"

    Mr. Sobolewski: "Hey, whoís telling the future here, me or you smart guy? Now if you could shut up long enough, IĎll tell you that Jan Van Halen is a gentleman I met recently, says his boys Edward and Alex are pretty good musicians themselves. The way I figure it, youĎre going straight to the top, and theyĎll be there to keep their mouths shut and back you up!"

    Michael: "Geez Pop, I donít know, that sounds a little like an arranged marriage. What if it doesnít work out and they end up making all the decisions, one of them married to a television star, the other with an unfortunate neck injury, and our original singer leaves at the height of our success...."

    Mr. Sobolewski: "Oh boy, what an imagination!"

    So as you can see, things were fated for Michael Anthony Sobolewski from early on. And somewhere between Illinois and California, Michael, along with the rest of the family, dropped the Sobolewski name and prepared to enter history as Michael Anthony.

    ALEXANDER ARTHUR VAN HALEN

    Alexander Arthur Van Halen was born on May 8, 1953 in Amsterdam. When he first came out of the womb, the doctor cut the umbilical cord and took his turn at the timeless tradition of lifting the child up by his feet and spanking his bottom. And in what seems like the first example of the fate of young Alex, the doctor proclaimed "Wham Bam" loudly as he spanked the boy. Upon hearing this, a young, unidentified child of about six years of age, who was conspicuously dressed all in red, snickered quietly to himself. Stranger still, though medical records are sketchy at best, there is some indication that young Alex Van Halen was indeed, as the rumors have stated, born wearing sunglasses. Asked about this phenomenon, the staff of the hospital was quite alarmed, and seemed very eager to hush this incident up. Attempts to reach the doctor who delivered Alex were unsuccessful, as he was last seen "spending one cold night in Berlin" after catching "a plane out of Moscow".

    Alex enjoyed a brief term as the only child, marred only by an unexplainable stiffness in his neck from time to time. It was with hair slicked back and his ever present sunglasses on that, at the age of only a year and a half, Jan took him back to the Amsterdam hospital to see his brand new baby brother Edward Lodewijk Van Halen. It was during the trip with his father to the hospital that Alex uttered his first words, which were "I bet this little prick will be a better guitar player than me!"

    EDWARD LODEWIJK VAN HALEN

    Edward Lodewijk Van Halen was born in Amsterdam on January 26, 1955. Oddly, though not born with the sunglasses that his elder brother was, Edward was born with a mouth full of teeth, perfecting right out of the womb that shit eating grin that would be so celebrated as he grew older. Edward, like his brother before him, spoke early, and his first words were even more alarming. At only 14 months, Edward sat bolt upright on the living room floor and said "when is that broken armed motherfucker Jimmy Page going to get off his lazy ass and write Heartbreaker, because Iíve got a great idea about two-handed finger tapping on the fretboard of a guitar". It evidently hadnít occurred to young Edward that at the time of these words, Jimmy Page was only 13 years old, but this again highlights the impatience that could mark the behavior of Edward Van Halen.

    In 1962 came the decision to move the Van Halen clan to the United States, a move which the family made with a piano as their only large possession. Once in America, Alex and Edward showed their love of music beyond the piano, when Alex worked at playing the guitar, and Edward worked at playing the drums. Eventually though, remembering his childhood neck pain, Alex decided that he was better off playing an instrument that allowed him to be immobile more and began to eye the drum kit of his younger brother. Edward, thankfully at about the same time, realized that in order to be ready for the release of Heartbreaker (which hadnít been written yet) and the coming of Jimmy Page (who he hadnít heard of, or had the chance to insult yet), heíd better get himself more familiar with the guitar.

    DAVID LEE ROTH

    David Lee Roth was born on October 10, 1954 in Bloomington Indiana. As his father pursued his career in ophthalmology, young David pursued his career in energy. By the age of six, Dave had visited his first psychologist, more or less due to his hyper activity. Gaining a pair of younger siblings did little to calm Dave down. In fact, Daveís mental health sessions may have been the impetus for his later career choice as seen by this actual transcript of a session Dave had as a child;

    Dr. Bill: "Now David, if itís okay with you, Iíd like to have some of my colleagues sit in on this session."

    Dave: "Sure, is Dr. Jovitz going to be here? I love the way the lines run up the back of her stockings. Oh shit, here she comes. Whatís that putz doing standing in front of her? íHey idiot, yeah thatís it, move a little more to the rightí!"

    Dr. Bill: "If everyone wants to take a seat we can begin. Well Dave, are you comfortable with this?"

    Dave: "Well look at all the shrinks here today, I said. Oh man, I tell you, Iíd like to get some of your finest, and I ainít talking about no God damn beer!"

    Dr. Bill: "Ah...Sure Dave, just say whatís on your mind."

    Dave: "Of course Iím gonna say whatís on my mind, this ainít fuckiní Sammy Hagar up here, I say."

    Dr. Bill: "Okay Dave, who is this Sammy Hagar youíre speaking of? A friend?"

    Dave: "Friend?!? Not guilty your honor sir. Yes your honor, no your honor, no contest your honor, nice tie your honor!"


    A rambling session for sure, but oddly prophetic in a way not seen since the early prophecies of Mr. Sobolewski. After many family moves, the Roth clan finally ended up in Southern California in 1963; in retrospect the timing was perfect for the boy who would grow to be the embodiment of the California dream. It was a time for Dave to be influenced by the Beach Boys, the sun, the waves and the babes, and then to put it all together with a soundtrack to match.

    THE BAND

    And hereís where Chicago, Amsterdam, and Bloomington all intersect to provide to sonic boom of the Mighty Van Halen. Of course, some legends need to be examined, and some need to be diffused. And indeed, new legends must be created.

    Forming the Red Ball Jets with friends, Dave found himself playing backyard parties with other bands, one of which features Edward and Alex Van Halen. Dave fails an early audition for Edward and Alexís band, though the seeds for their collaboration begin even earlier than this.

    In fact, David Lee Roth had crossed paths with Jan Van Halen at an earlier time, taking from him a familiar phrase. With Daveís father being in the eye business, he got Dave a part time job giving eye examinations in a Los Angeles clinic. One day, none other than Jan Van Halen came in for his annual eye test. It was the last appointment of the day and Dave had his young girlfriend waiting in the room, as they were headed out for an evening of their favorite activity; talking about Dave. Jan Van Halen, not being familiar with the American way of eye examination, is annoyed when David attempts to blow air Janís eye. With a quick flash of temper, Jan barks out "hey man, donít be squiring air in my eye, Iím going to fuck your girlfriend pal!" Far from being offended, Dave is intrigued by this clever turn of phrase, and makes a mental note to add this to his growing repertoire of stage phrases.

    Having failed the earlier audition, something inside of Dave tells him that his fate lies with these Van Halen brothers, and he agrees to audition a second time a couple of years later, and this time he passes the test, joining what is then called Mammoth, featuring Mark Stone on bass. Though Edward will later claim that the key reason for Dave joining was that Mammoth needed his PA system, the truth is that Edward was impressed with Daveís claim that "Iíd never leave this band to become a movie star".

    Then in 1974, the lineup became complete. Mark Stone, deciding that Pete Best was his hero, left the band, paving the way for Michael Anthony to join the group. Though Michael had been expecting to meet the Van Halen brothers early on after moving to California through Mr. Sobolewskiís alleged connection with Jan, this never materialized for unknown reasons. Which meant that Michael had to ply his trade on his own, building up a well deserved reputation for singing lead vocals and playing bass guitar at the same time. Michael had been singing and playing in a local band called Snake, and he met Alex in a jazz improvisation class, at which point the offer came for Michael to try out for Mammoth. Present at the audition were Michael, Alex and Edward; Dave wasnít there, but he was moved to support Michael when he learned that Michael could sing lead, which would leave Dave more time to get loaded, ignore the vocals and institute phrases such as Janís "fuck your girlfriend" line into the live show.

    The collective energy of the four men, and the realization that the name Mammoth was already in use, lead to a decision to create a new name for the band. Edward was keen to use the name Rat Salad as a Black Sabbath tribute, but in the end the new name became VAN HALEN. Word has it that it was David Lee Roth who pushed for that name, though it must be stated that Mr. Sobolewski instigated a brief, though ugly, argument within the group when he pushed Michael to petition for the name "Michael Anthony Quartet". Needless to say, Michael was already getting the idea that his fatherís dream of power was quickly slipping away. Nevertheless, Michael wisely stayed on board as he could see that this band was something special.

    THE CLUB ERA

    At this point, there was nothing left to do but to bring their own brand of rock and roll to the club owners of Los Angeles in hopes of getting live bookings, and hopefully a record deal. Things were slow going at first, primarily due to Edwardís insistence on playing at full volume all the time. And while the legend has always been that this was because Edward felt the amps only sounded good at peak volume, the truth is that Edwardís volume obsession was indicative of an early rift with David Lee Roth. Dave once made the mistake of asking Edward to play his guitar with the amp on 5, which lead Edward to insist on playing it on 10. Itís the same argument that plagues them to this day; one says day, the other says night.

    Finally though, Van Halen broke the barrier and began to get a lot of club dates. Their first key multiple booking were at the famed Gazzariís club on the Sunset Boulevard, which was owned by Bill Gazzari. What many donít know is that the bookings initially came about at the urging of Dr. Nathan Roth, Daveís father. Having the band rehearse in his basement was starting to agitate the doctor to the point where he virtually begged Bill Gazzari to book his sonís band, thereby getting them out of his basement most evenings.

    This lead to gigs at all the rock and roll venues available to a young up and coming band like Van Halen; clubs like The Whiskey A GoGo, The Starwood, The Pasadena Hilton, Walter Mittyís Rock and Roll Emporium and the Goldenwest Ballroom. It is said that a man was stabbed to death in a fight at an early gig at the Walter Mittyís club, but the truth is that every struggling band has an off night, and this man actually killed himself due to the bandís stubborn refusal to properly tune their instruments.

    While playing the Starwood in 1976 Van Halen were presented with what they believed was their big break. Gene Simmons of KISS fame saw the band, and felt strongly that they were the next big thing. Gene flew the band to New York to record a demo that consisted of Babe Donít Leave Me Alone, Runniní With the Devil, and House Of Pain. Itís also believed that Van Halen ran through a few KISS tunes. No tape exists of this, but tape does exist of the band laughing hysterically for several minutes, which is where this assumption comes in. After recording, Van Halen even met with KISS manager Bill Aucoin in his New York offices, but he remained unconvinced of the potential of Van Halen and passed on signing them. Several years later Bill Aucoin began legal proceedings to change his name to "Stupid Motherfucker", but realized that this was stating the obvious, and kept his original name.

    With the Gene Simmons demo in hand, Van Halen were approached by the one person who was impressed with it, Marshall Berle. He became their manager, and they immediately went back to playing the live circuit in Southern California. At this point, all of their hard work was about to come to fruition. In May of 1977, one of their club dates was attended by Mo Ostin (the Chairman of Warner Brothers) and Ted Templeman.

    To Be Continued.....

    [ April 04, 2001 at 11:52 AM: Message edited by: Glenn ]

  2. #2
    Good Enough hellohawk's Avatar
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    Great piece of work, Glenn.

    Obviously inspired by the ridiculously long delay between new VH releases. [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img]
    VHLinks Fantasy Baseball Champions: 2004, 2009, 2011

  3. #3
    Unchained rxman's Avatar
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    It's a masterpiece Glenn!! Thanks!!
    I spent part of my lunch hour reading it and it sure made my day a lot better. I was laughing my ass off!!!!
    "The sound of Van Halen was meant to spill out, all over your stereo and ruin the rest of your record collection "...David Lee Roth

    Check out one of the best bands to come out of Arizona. Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers. www.rogerclyne.net

  4. #4
    Eruption
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    A HUUUUUUUGE thumbs-up to ya Glenn!

    [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img] [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img] [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img]
    "You gotta do me a favor and let these (people) have a good time, alright? A little bit of (vulgar term for breast) and their hands in the air ain't gonna hurt anybody" - Nikki Sixx

    "Van Halen is 'Get the fuck off the sidewalk if ya don't like our drivin' kinda music!" - David Lee Roth

    "We get to the hotel, there's people partyin' in the parking lot, people gettin' down in the elevator, wow! I swear to God I had this one chick, this chick was poundin' on my door, she was kickin' and screamin' at my door 'til about 6:30 this morning. Finally, I just said, 'Fuck it!' and let her out of my room!" - David Lee Roth

  5. #5
    Top Of The World
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    HAHA,kick ass Glenn [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img]
    Guitar player,extrordinaire(or at least I like to think)<br /><br />"....man,this is Van Halen,and i'm the singer." Sammy-1987<br /><br /><a href="http://www.guitartabs.cc/" target="_blank">www.guitartabs.cc/</a>

  6. #6
    Baluchitherium JWS_5150's Avatar
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    [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img] [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img] [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img]
    I'm one of those crazies on your block.

    writing

  7. #7
    Romeo Delight
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    Another guy with too much time on his hands...

  8. #8
    Hot For Teacher
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    The best thing I read all day long [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img]
    can't wait for the second part.
    Do you think we migth still have to wait anyway?

  9. #9
    Banned!
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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Glenn:

    Michael: "Dad, itís 1968, the Godfather doesnít come out until 1972. You really need to get back on your medication!"
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    My favorite part. [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]

  10. #10
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    Glenn,

    Correction on your claim that the entire family dropped the Sobolewski name in favor of Anthony.

    This is not true in the case of the Sobolewski's I know about here in the Arcadia area. They have kept the family name.

  11. #11
    XTC man! homeunit's Avatar
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    [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img] [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img] [img]smilies/eek.gif[/img] [img]smilies/eek.gif[/img] [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img] [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img]
    My Band
    Baluchitherium

  12. #12
    Baluchitherium
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    Well done, Mel [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img]
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~<br /><br />God Bless the USA!!!!<br />~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

  13. #13
    Niners Fan! SactoFan's Avatar
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    Glenn, that was excellent!!!
    Can't stop...addicted to the shindig...

  14. #14
    The Dude Dan Halen's Avatar
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    Awesome. [img]smilies/cool.gif[/img]
    "It's so damn hot... milk was a bad choice." --Ron Burgundy, Anchorman

  15. #15
    Eruption esquiretoo's Avatar
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    Good stuff indeed! You now have immunity from prosecution. [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img] [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]
    Over 12 years on the links!!
    ROLL DAMN TIDE!!
    Back on Active Duty - HOOAH!!
    First time I heard Unchained, I thought the lyrics were...."Blue-eyed mutha in a slashed white dress!"
    STAY FROSTY FRIENDS!

 

 

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