By Steve Newton
If you’re anything like me—and by that I mean an old guy who grew up loving guitar-rock in the seventies—that first Van Halen album of ’78 was one of the most amazing things ever. At the time, I could barely comprehend how raunchy it was. Eddie’s guitarwork was inconceivably fierce. Diamond Dave’s caveman vocals and rock hollers were beyond primal. And the rhythm section was right there every step of the way.
I hadn’t been so stunned by a 12-inch slab of loud vinyl since the Montrose debut five years prior.
Fans of Van Halen’s earliest days–even before it unleashed “Eruption” on the world–are in for a treat next month with the release of Van Halen Rising by American author Greg Renoff. Subtitled “How a Southern California Backyard Party Band Saved Heavy Metal”, Renoff’s 372-page paperback focuses on the legendary hard-rock act’s origins.
Today Renoff released something of a teaser for the book in the form of a rare flyer from the band’s concert at Pasadena High School on May 3, 1974.
“To the best of my knowledge, this flyer hasn’t been seen widely since 1974,” writes Renoff. “Now take a look at the opening band’s name: Snake. As many Van Halen fans know, on this night, Michael Anthony, Snake’s bassist and lead singer, generously allowed Van Halen to use his band’s PA system after Van Halen’s system blew up during soundcheck.
“But before Van Halen played through the system, Edward, Alex, and Dave watched Anthony perform with his power trio. After hearing his strong lead vocals and solid bass playing, the three members of Van Halen were knocked out by his abilities and soon after asked him to audition for Van Halen.
“What happened next, and in the years that followed, leading up to Van Halen’s out-of-nowhere 1978 commercial breakthrough? It’s all coming in the pages of Van Halen Rising. Get Ready.”
Oh, I’m ready, Mr. Renoff. Don’t you worry. I’ve been ready for 37 years.