ALEX VAN HALEN
ALEX VAN HALEN
Basic Background Info
When Dutch-American Alexander Arthur Van Halen was a child, he trained as a classical pianist and flamenco guitarist. Alex Van Halen's brother Eddie, on the other hand, was learning to be drummer. However, Alex Van Halen felt a deep connection with the thumping rhythms produced by his brotherís drum kit and would take every opportunity to pound the heads the moment Eddie stepped away. Eddie eventually accepted that Alex was the more proficient drummer and relinquished his kit. Eddie, in turn, moved on to electric guitar.
The Van Halen family moved to Pasadena, California, when Alex was nine years old. Alex Van Halen graduated from Pasadena High School and proceeded to study music theory, scoring, composition, and arrangement at Pasadena City College. Alex eventually withdrew from college and pursued his professional music career full-time.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Alex and Eddie performed together in numerous bands until the creation of Mammoth with bassist Mark Stone in 1972. Before long however, Mark Stone left the group and was replaced by Michael Anthony. Eddie was also becoming increasingly frustrated with singing vocals and urged the band to find a vocalist. They auditioned a few local singers, including the ever-charismatic David Lee Roth, but initially found none to be suitable. Nevertheless, the band did form a friendship with David, and eventually he did become the groupís frontman in 1974.
Backing down from a name dispute with another band, Mammoth needed another moniker. David Lee Roth suggested that the band simply name itself Van Halen. The name stuck, and they feverishly hit the Southern California club circuit to play such venues as Gazzari's the Starwood, The Whiskey a Go Go, and Walter Mitty's Rock & Roll Emporium. Catching the attention of Warner Bros. executives, Van Halen signed a contract in 1977.
In early 1978, Van Halen released their hard rocking self-titled debut album. Fans claimed that the album saved rock & roll from diminishing in the face of disco and punk. From the very beginning, Alex Van Halen's drumming was a volatile combination of dynamic power laced with finesse and character. Alex Van Halen quickly grew famous for his energetic solos on his notoriously ever-expanding drum kit. Occasionally, Alex Van Halen forayed into different percussion instruments. For instance, on "Outta Love Again" he played the congas.
Throughout the early 1980s, Van Halen pounded out hit albums--Van Halen II, Women and Children First, Fair Warning, Diver Down, and 1984. In 1985, Roth unexpectedly left Van Halen. He was quickly replaced by Sammy Hagar, and Van Halen generated four more albums until Sammy left in 1996. Van Halen was forced to hire Gary Cherone and recorded Van Halen III. The album received poor reviews, and Van Halen fired Cherone following the completion of the supporting tour. Since then, Van Halen has been on official hiatus.
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