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  • 1984 - Van Halen's Double Edged Sword (Part 1).


    No Van Halen Website is complete without commentary on the masterpiece that is Van Halen's 1984! I've long said to many people if they listened to Van Halen's 1984 instead of reading George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty Four, their lives would be filled with joy and happiness instead of self loathing and despair!

    Eddie finally got something he wanted for a long time in 1983..his own recording studio named 5150 which was built next to his home. The 1984 album was the first album recorded there. Much of the reason why 5150 was built simply came down to Eddie wanting more control of band musically.
    The Studio got built in early 1983 and the band started recording what became 1984 from June to October 1983. The entire Van Halen band was still in great shape at this point. There were tensions between David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen but it was still in competitive healthy spirit to make sure the both of them were bringing their "A" game to the table so to speak.
    Noel Monk (Van Halen's Manager) also got the band the time needed for them to record 1984 so Warner Bros. would be off their backs! Record companies don't care about art, creativity, artistic development, all they care about is money.

    It was also a blessing that excessive alcohol and drug abuse hadn't caught up with Eddie by this time but it would a few years later unfortunately.

    First thing when speaking about was Jump!


    I get up and nothing gets me down
    You got it tough, I've seen the toughest around And I know, baby, just how you feel
    You gotta roll with the punches to get to what's real
    Oh, can't you see me standing here?
    I got my back against the record machine
    I ain't the worst that you've seen
    Oh, can't you see what I mean?
    Ah, might as well jump (Jump!)
    Might as well jump
    Go ahead and jump (Jump!)
    Go ahead and jump
    Direct and to the Point. Van Halen's first and only Number 1 song!
    Something worth noting about JUMP is the Music Video to the song. It shows David Lee Roth at the peak of his Stage Performance. JUMP was also constantly played on MTV and that catchy solo would hook you right in. 

    Van Halen also released the songs Panama and Hot For Teacher as singles from 1984 which also had a very memorable Music Videos. All of a sudden Van Halen became one of the most popular bands on MTV.

    Van Halen's 1984 album by the year 1999 also sold over 10 million in the United States alone.

    The saddest thing unfortunately is that when any band reaches the height of their success, as Van Halen did with 1984..there is only one direction to go and that is down! The Success and all the trappings of 1984 that made Van Halen the biggest band in the World tore it apart.

    As soon as 1984 was cut (Recorded, Mixed, Mastered) and Noel Monk (Van Halen's Manager) heard it, he knew it would be massive (In fact, everyone who heard it before it was released knew it would do 'STELLAR' to use one of David Lee Roth's words!). Warner Bros. put their Promotion and Marketing into overdrive.

    There was the smell of success and money in the air! Lot's of Pow Wow'ing was going on between Eddie Van Halen, Alex Van Halen and David Lee Roth, specifically, as everyone knew there was a lot of money to be made.
    Eddie, Alex and Dave decided that Michael Anthony's contribution to Van Halen wasn't worth him getting a percentage of the royalties from the 1984 album or a percentage of the money from the upcoming tour. Noel Monk was told to inform Michael Anthony of this and to sign away all of the money that would have been coming to him. I need to point out that Noel Monk didn't want to do this and was very angry and upset with the other members of the band, but he wasn't given much of a choice.
    This kind of stuff happens alot in bands once the money starts rolling in. In the beginning...it is all for one and one for all but true friendship is put at the test when money at this magnitude pours in and the stakes are high.

    Also around this time, corporate sponsorship was beginning in a big way for bands. Noel Monk got in on this too and set up a Sponsorship deal with a Car Stereo Company called Sparkomatic to Sponsor and support financially,  Van Halen's 1984 tour. Noel negotiated the deal which was worth $1 million!

    There was a problem though with the deal which we learned much later on and that was when Noel presented the deal to Van Halen...David Lee Roth said "I smoke Marlboro's and I wear Levi's unless they are sponsoring us, I'm not interested". Noel replied "It's $1 million!". David Lee Roth didn't want to hear anymore about it. Something to bear in mind by this point that Van Halen were the biggest touring band in America at that time and in terms of equipment, lighting, etc. They had maybe 60 to 100 people on the payroll when they went on tour between roadies, guys to set up their stage show, drivers, security, assistants and then there's the merchandisers.

    That $1 million from Sparkomatic would have covered a good percentage of the wage bill for the touring staff. Within 3 days, Noel Monk got a Phonecall from Alex Van Halen asking if the Sparkomatic deal could go ahead but he heard the bad news that Supertramp lapped up the Sparkomatic deal instead. A big opportunity missed and all because of David Lee Roth's Ego getting in the way.
    Both David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen are at the top of their games. Behind the scenes though, Dave and Eddie didn't have much to do with one another apart from when they were on stage. Also by this time Eddie began taking advances (money) against what the band was making from concerts, the reason for this
    unfortunately was drugs.
    Eddie was drinking heavily and was doing massive amounts of cocaine by this time. He had his own personal dealer too. Noel Monk was totally aware of what was going on with Eddie but his drug use hadn't got to the point to where it could derail his or the bands ability to play concerts. There was simply too much money involved and too many people on the payroll for Eddie to go into Rehab at that point and Eddie was functioning well enough. Back then it was the done thing that rockstars would do drugs, smash up hotel rooms and live up to the persona.
    Alex Van Halen was quite a mess too at this point but with him it wasn't drug use, it was alcohol. Alex Van Halen would play gigs totally drunk and wouldn't miss a beat, yet the next day he wouldn't even remember the gig from the night before. Alex Van Halen totally gave up drinking in 1987 and that kept him sane and healthy.
    David Lee Roth managed for the most part to take all of the Rock and Roll lifestyle in his stride as far as I'm aware, so much so that David Lee Roth recorded a solo EP after the 1984 tour ended called "Crazy From The Heat", which contained a cover version of The Beach Boys song "California Girls", which was released on December 19th, 1984 (according to Wikipedia).
    Why David Lee Roth did this for, I am not too sure! David Lee Roth has what he calls "Belligerent Enthusiasm". By his own admission he has Attention Deficit Disorder and simply got bored and wanted to do it.
    Eddie and Alex were content to stay home after the tour and drink and get high. Which is exactly what they did! Dave was ready to record another with Van Halen and go out on tour which is what they had done since 1978. Michael Anthony by this point did whatever he was told to by Eddie. It is true that both Dave and Eddie were seriously considering replacing Michael Anthony in 1982 after a little known band from Buffalo, New York opened for Van Halen called Talas.
    Talas were a very good band, so much so that David Lee Roth didn't want them opening for Van Halen, however, David Lee Roth made sure he got the Telephone Number of their Bass Player....Billy Sheehan who Eddie and Dave were considering replacing Michael Anthony with.
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    It was either in late 1984 or early 1985 that Van Halen were due to commence recording their next album, according to David Lee Roth however....Eddie and Alex simply had no interest in recording an album, didn't want to tour and were both more involved with getting high and drunk and simply couldn't be bothered to much of anything at that point. Dave never went into great detail just how severe both Eddie and Alex's drinking and drug use was. He had tact.

    One thing with David Lee Roth, he might have made a few wisecracks such as calling Eddie and Alex "The Van Heineken Brothers" but he never went into sordid details. Sammy on the other hand........He totally let rip on both Eddie and Alex in his Autobiography Red. Totally uncalled for and he comes across as very ungrateful.

    Eddie was/is one of the greatest guitar players of all time but in nearly all of the other parts of his life he made some very bad choices and decisions.

    As for the massive success and money 1984 and the tour brought in, when Sammy Hagar joined Van Halen in 1985 after (Dave quit or was fired)...both Eddie and Alex apparently according to Sammy Hagar were totally broke....they literally didn't have a penny to their names. Alex wasn't too shroud with money......spent way more money that he actually had and was in arrears to the IRS. Eddie wasn't doing much better either but his Wife Valerie Bertinelli was very famous and apparently was earning $1 million a season on the TV Show One Day At A Time. Eddie once joked in an interview sometime in the early 90's "Thank God My Wife is an Actress so we are able to pay the Rent".

    Something I need to point out is prior to Dave rejoining Van Halen in 2007 many attempts were made by both Eddie and Alex plus Dave but the Lawyers got involved according to Dave. This is true because Van Halen renegotiated it's royalty payment with Warner Bros. and that needed to be settled before Dave rejoined.

    There is the famous 1996 MTV Reunion where things lasted about 5 minutes before Eddie and Dave literally wanted to kill each other. David Lee Roth "Tonight is about me! Not Your _____ Hip" Eddie Van Halen "Ok, I won't mention my hip, just answer the questions (in interviews)" to which Dave replied according (Eddie does a GREAT IMPRESSION OF DAVID LEE ROTH afterwards when interviewed for MTV News) "You ____ better not!"

    Denis McCarthy 



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    Good article, I often wonder how things would of panned out if Billy Sheenan replaced Michael Anthony, two both great guys and bass players. 

    Maybe the outcome for the circle band would of been different too and Sammy would of had Billy instead and where would Mike go, what band would he of joined.

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    I would say it's there best album for me anyway. The only downside was the heavy burden of alcohol and drugs , they were totally out of it..the crazy thing is they were that good..it never affected their performance one bit.

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    15 minutes ago, Pale Horse said:

    Good article, I often wonder how things would of panned out if Billy Sheenan replaced Michael Anthony, two both great guys and bass players. 

    Maybe the outcome for the circle band would of been different too and Sammy would of had Billy instead and where would Mike go, what band would he of joined.

    It would of affected eat em and smile too ☺

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    3 minutes ago, Super Shred said:

    There was a lot of messing about from the record company when it came to reunions, they tend to fuck up most bands one way or the other. 

    Probably... that they were all hot heads though when under the influence, if you add that to the equation as well as the record labels....

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    19 hours ago, Fire Stack said:

    What was Roth thinking turning down a million dollars.

    Disagree... It was a cheap/sorta lame sponsorship idea that Noel spent wayyy too much time w in the book.  Trying to show his worth in the band's history.

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    19 hours ago, Van Roth said:

    They would of made it anywhere, being the top band.

    yeah right move to turn down that sponsorship (Sparkomatic??? where are they now).  I could see Sony or Panasonic, etc... but not some lame small company to associate the Van Halen brand with.  Noel just seeing $$$$

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