Sunday, October 5, 2014

Van Halen, The #96 Artist of the Seventies*

This great American rock group formed in Pasadena, California in 1972, although they were originally known as Genesis.  Brothers Eddie and Alex Van Halen (both born in the Netherlands) formed a band with bassist Mark Stone.  They didn't have a sound system, so they rented a sound system from David Lee Roth.  Roth had auditioned for the group before, but was not successful. 

The group decided to save money on the rental by letting Roth join as lead vocalist, and in 1974, Michael Anthony replaced Stone on bass.  When the quartet found out that the name Genesis was already being used by the English act which later became superstars, they changed their name, first briefly to Mammoth before deciding on Van Halen. 

Van Halen began playing backyard parties and clubs in Pasadena and Hollywood, promoting themselves by passing out flyers at local high schools.  They began to attract more and more fans, which led to a gig at Gazzarri's on Sunset Strip in Los Angeles.  Before long, Van Halen was one of the top bands in Los Angeles, playing at famous clubs like the Whisky a-Go Go.

The band recorded a demo tape at Cherokee Studios in Northridge, then another with Gene Simmons of KISS, who had seen the band perform at Gazzarri.  But Simmons was told by KISS management that Van Halen had "no chance of making it", which should tell you everything you need to know about the ability of KISS management to recognize talent.

In 1977, Ted Templeman and Mo Ostin of Warner Brothers Records caught Van Halen at the Starwood in Hollywood.  Within a week, the group had a recording contract.  They set upon recording their debut album at Sunset Sound Recorders.
The self-titled Van Halen became one of the top debut albums in the Rock Era.  While it officially only reached #19 on the Billboard chart, several tracks received considerable airplay on AOR (Album Oriented Rock) stations.  Eddie demonstrated a technique on "Eruption" (which led in to the group's cover of the Kinks' "You Really Got Me") called finger-tapping that showed he was a force to be reckoned with in the guitar world. 

Eddie's sensational guitar playing and Roth's wild stage antics earned Van Halen a reputation for being a great live band.  "Runnin With The Devil" was another strong cut on the album.


The slow-starting Van Halen album has now sold over ten million copies.  It includes the great track "Feel Your Love Tonight".


As each track was discovered, Van Halen picked up more and more fans who realized they were something special.  This is "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love".

We want to feature another track from this sensational debut--"Jamie's Cryin'"

In 1979, Van Halen returned with the album Van Halen II.  The group achieved their first big hit, "Dance The Night Away", a #15 song in the United States and #28 in Canada.


Despite their first commercial success, the group's second effort was nowhere near its first, although eventually Van Halen's fans did buy it up to the tune of five million.  It did yield this Top Track*:

Although Van Halen was still anything but a household name at this point, the cutoff for the decade, they still achieved enough success to land at #96 for the Seventies*.  They would of course achieve their greatest popularity in the next decade.  Van Halen would eventually be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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