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Ten Things You May Not Know About Van Halen
Van Halen were kings of hard rock for a reason.
Eddie Van Halen’s guitar wizardry was unprecedented, and combined with David Lee Roth’s off-the-wall personality and theatrical voice, they rose to the top of the rock world in the late 1970s and early 1980s, with now-classics like Runnin’ with the Devil, Jump, and Ain’t Talkin’ ‘bout Love. This was, of course, before Roth quit and was replaced by Sammy Hagar, who brought the band more success well into the mid-1990s.
As with any major band, they’ve been talked about relentlessly over the years, especially now that they’re back together and releasing a new album in 2012.
However, there are still some fun facts that remain just below the surface of common knowledge.
Below, enjoy our Rock Square list of Ten Things You May Not Know About Van Halen.
1. Gene Simmons of KISS wanted them to have a different name.
In 1977, Simmons financed the first Van Halen demo recording, and had his own idea of what they should be called: he wanted the band to re-name themselves Daddy Longlegs, and had even designed a logo depicting a spider wearing a top hat. (source)
2. The infamous “no brown M&M’s backstage” myth was based in reality.
One of rock music’s most infamous stories, the band was said to have banned all brown M&M candies from the backstage rider. At the time, this was perceived as bratty rock stars making outlandish requests, but the REAL reason they worked this into the rules was understandable: they included it in the rider to assure that the promoters actually read the rules of the show (which would ensure a smooth gig that night). If they didn’t, the band could walk away from their commitment and still be compensated. (source)
3. Eruption was an accident.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Eddie revealed that the classic guitar solo track was never supposed to be recorded. He and the band were at Sunset Studios in Hollywood and their engineer Donn Landee recorded some of Eddie’s rehearsals on accident. That accident became Eruption, one of Van Halen’s most well-known tracks. (source)
4. The David Lee Roth era never produced a #1 album.
Despite most casual rock fans associating Van Halen with David Lee Roth, the band never recorded a #1 album with him on lead vocals. Ironically, it wasn’t until 5150, Sammy Hagar’s first album with the band and the first since Roth’s departure after the successful 1984, that a Van Halen album would show up in the #1 spot.
5. The band weren’t huge fans of Dance the Night Away.
Despite the radio-friendly song’s success, propelling Van Halen II to strong sales figures, the members of Van Halen felt it didn’t adequately represent their sound. Warner Brothers overruled them, and the track was the first single released from VH’s second album. Roth wanted it to be called Dance Lolita Dance, but it was changed to its final title in order to gain mainstream acceptability. (source 1) (source 2)
6. Unchained wasn’t technically a single.
It would go on to become one of Van Halen’s most recognizable (and frequently played) songs, but Unchained was not officially a single. 1981’s Fair Warning was one of the band’s least successful outings of the Roth era, only featuring one official single (So This is Love?), which didn’t perform well on the charts. Today, the song is one of the band’s signature songs. (source)
7. Guitar wasn’t Eddie’s first passion.
When they were teenagers, Eddie Van Halen and brother Alex played classical piano before shifting to new instruments: Eddie adopted the drums, while Alex manned the guitar. They eventually traded, setting into action Eddie’s rise to the “guitar god” status he has today. (source)
8. David Lee Roth had an insurance policy on his sperm.
Cautious of the consequences of being in one of the biggest hard rock bands in the world, Roth took out a $1,000,000 insurance policy on…himself. In the instance that Roth and a woman/groupie would end up with an unexpected pregnancy, he would receive a million dollars to pay child support. A strange request, to be certain, but one that indicates how much he was watching out for the potential consequences of his hard-partying lifestyle. (source)
9. Right Now was written long before it was released.
The song, which was a hit on 1991’s For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, was actually partially composed by Eddie Van Halen before Jump (which was released seven years previously). An early recording of the track was featured in the 1984 movie The Wild Life. (source)
10. The school featured in the Hot for Teacher video had been closed prior to filming.
Hot for Teacher’s iconic music video was shot at John Marshall High School in Los Angeles, but the school had been shut down before the video was scheduled to be shot. Rather than change venues, Van Halen paid out of pocket in order to help the city afford to reopen the school for the shoot. (source)
So there you have it, 10 fun facts about Van Halen that you might not already have been familiar with. Feel free to point out some other random tidbits that we neglected to include in this list below.
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