It came out because I had been listening to Allan Holdsworth, who I think is the baddest. This was a first take—a bunch of songs on that album were first takes. I had an old Wurlitzer electric piano and I pumped it through my Marshalls. I just pounded on the lower registers and put it through an MXR flanger to get that weird sound. What the hell is that?
That was my first encounter with the band not wanting me to play keyboards—when we did the song live, Mike played it. Maybe Fair Warning felt that way because the album cover was so bizarre. I think the music on it is actually very straightforward. Fair Warning is kind of a dark album. We started doing things my way, and we all kind of butted heads—me versus them. When did you do that? I used an OBX-A keyboard, which they stopped making. I think we just recorded one take. Actually, the tape ran out at the very end, just in time.
When Donn mixed it, he had to fade it just right; otherwise, he would have run out of tape. You can hear that there are two distinct parts to that solo.
Van Halen (Warner Brothers, 1978)
All I remember is the recorded, pieced-together version that everybody knows. He and I were very involved in this record. We almost took control, to a point, because it was done in my studio and we knew what we wanted. I think the whole album sounds the best.
I like it all. The tunes are really fresh. I used the arpeggiator in the OB-8, so everyone had to play that. I would love to have written a Christmas carol. For seven years — from the release of their debut album , until Roth's departure as frontman in — Van Halen were a living, breathing cartoon of the rock'n'roll lifestyle. They celebrated sex and drugs and drink.
Then they celebrated them some more. If Sunset Strip in the s had been the party, Van Halen, a decade later, were the after-party. And the world lapped it up: the Roth-era Van Halen sold 35m albums, despite their sometimes variable quality. There were masterpieces — their debut, a shock as seismic as punk, and Roth's final album with the group, the one that gave us Jump and the marvellously goofy Hot For Teacher with its apocalyptic drum intro — and there was the tossed-off, minute long Diver Down, from , heavy on covers and instrumentals.
It was like Port Royal in the s. It didn't belong to anybody, which was why it was great. But was it ever hard work appearing to be having that much fun all the time? I've been rich and I've been poor," he says. Totally better. The Van Halens [Eddie and his brother Alex, the drummer] and I have had steady jobs since we were 12 years old. Mine was working before and after school at a horse stable. For them it was paper routes. Mr Van Halen was classic European: you're making your money for the rent. I was lucky I didn't have to do that … Even at your worst moments, there's a whole lot of Shakespeare going on.
How can you not appreciate it? At your lonesomest, most catastrophic, it's still pretty cinematic.
I think the smiles were genuine. Don't mistake them for simplistic grins — there's a lot of pirate smiling. I'm gonna fuck your girlfriend, pal!
David Lee Roth: 'I've been rich and I've been poor. Rich is better'
From the very beginning, Van Halen sounded unique. Their first album, with its clean, popcentric sound, changed the face of hard rock: there was no use of the devil's interval , the chord progression that traditionally signals metallic doom.
Dance the Night Away is Santana , because we used to play all those weddings and those dances at the backyard parties. Probably a litigating attorney coined it first. OK, if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then there are a whole lot of dogs out there … At worst I feel like I'm driving past a traffic accident and I'm relieved no one was killed. Van Halen were there first, though, and they were the best. They sounded like the future it's no coincidence that Eddie Van Halen's alien guitar caterwauling was used in a scene in Back to the Future , to convince George McFly he was being visited by a being from another dimension.
Eruption , the famous guitar solo from the first Van Halen album — and the Back to the Future wake-up call — showed a new generation of players how to bring the flash: you didn't need 10 minutes for your solo to make the point — seconds would do. If you look closely, Roth says, it's easy to see where Van Halen took their inspirations from.
Best VAN HALEN images | Van halen, Eddie van halen, David lee roth
If you're lucky to have it, there's no way around it. I actively imitated everything from the Nicholas Brothers tap dancing to Mick Jagger going 'Oooh yeah! And when Edward plays you might never have heard the material before but you instantly recognise it as fast as, say, Jimi's guitar. Crucially, though, Roth says they were never just a metal band, even though they revolutionised the genre. It's just the school system. Below south of the harbour freeway: 'Que pasa? What are you looking at? You can hear it - it's loudly diverse but you can't feel the seams. It's like if you go to a car show and you Stevie Wonder it: you can't feel where the Chevy turned into a Mercedes door frame which turned into — that's a De Soto grill!
What are you doing? It's so much of a hybrid that you have to give it its own name. He started from absolutely nothing, with no background, and he wrote Brother Can You Spare a Dime, arguably the most famous American song of the Depression, and he wrote the lyrics and the melody for Over the Rainbow. How's Yip doing so far? I confine the theatre of my fame to what would Yip think?
Those different neighbourhoods, plus the steals from Springsteen and Bowie and Yip Harburg, were what made the band unique. Even on the demos they recorded with Gene Simmons of Kiss in , they already sound like a band who are only themselves, sui generis. And the beautful thing about science is it's true whether you believe it or not. The Van Halens went to Ridgemont High. Ever see the movie? Who does endings better than Van Halen live?
I'll send you a ticket.
I'm ready to argue this. Unarguably the best endings ever, right? They sound like the end of everything.