Eddie Van Halen: what Steve Vai, Allan Holdsworth, Jake E. Lee, Leslie West, and brother Alex told me about “the king”

By Steve Newton One of the biggest regrets of my career in rock journalism–and there aren’t that many, believe it or not–was never getting the opportunity to interview Eddie Van Halen. I did get to chat with his big brother Alex once, and he gave me a really great interview, but it just wasn’t the … Continue reading Eddie Van Halen: what Steve Vai, Allan Holdsworth, Jake E. Lee, Leslie West, and brother Alex told me about “the king”

That time I asked Alex Van Halen what the best thing was about being in Van Halen

By Steve Newton Here’s the last excerpt I’m gonna post from my 1995 interview with Alex Van Halen. I’d like to thank author Greg Renoff for his help in getting these audio clips to the hardcore Van Halen fans. I highly recommend his book Van Halen Rising: How a Southern California Backyard Party Band Saved … Continue reading That time I asked Alex Van Halen what the best thing was about being in Van Halen

That time Alex Van Halen told me that the first drummer who really blew him away style-wise was Ginger Baker

By Steve Newton Everybody has their favourite all-time rock drummer. Mine, for example, was the Who’s Keith Moon, who won me over forever with his frenzied work on Quadrophenia. Many others point to the precise timekeeping of Led Zeppelin skinbasher John Bonham. When I interviewed Alex Van Halen back in 1995 he told me that Moon … Continue reading That time Alex Van Halen told me that the first drummer who really blew him away style-wise was Ginger Baker

That time Autograph guitarist Steve Lynch told me about the crazy times touring with Van Halen

By Steve Newton Way the heck back in October of 1985 I interviewed Autograph guitarist Steve Lynch because his band was headed to Vancouver as opening act on Motley Crue‘s Theatre of Pain tour. Back then two-handed tapping was very popular among guitarists in hard rock and metal bands, and Lynch was among its top … Continue reading That time Autograph guitarist Steve Lynch told me about the crazy times touring with Van Halen

That time Alex Van Halen told me how early on he discovered the fascinating power of live music

By Steve Newton We’ve all heard the old joke before: “What do you call somebody who hangs around with musicians? A drummer.” I think it’s fair to say that drummers don’t always get the credit they deserve. I haven’t interviewed that many over the years–for the simple fact that I prefer talking to guitarists–but some … Continue reading That time Alex Van Halen told me how early on he discovered the fascinating power of live music

That time I asked Klaus Meine if the Scorpions were blowing Van Halen off the stage on the Monsters of Rock Tour

By Steve Newton Way back in July of 1988 I made the trek from Vancouver to see the Monsters of Rock Festival at the Seattle Kingdome. The lineup featured Van Halen, Scorpions, Metallica, Dokken, and Kingdom Come, and at the time–since David Lee Roth was no longer in VH–I was particularly psyched to see the … Continue reading That time I asked Klaus Meine if the Scorpions were blowing Van Halen off the stage on the Monsters of Rock Tour

That time Alex Van Halen told me how Van Halen would “raise a stink” across L.A. until it paid off

By Steve Newton If you want to know the real story of how Van Halen went from being a backyard party band to America’s hard-rock kings, check out author Gregg Renoff’s 2015 book Van Halen Rising. And for the condensed version, check out this excerpt from my 1995 interview with Alex Van Halen. Have a listen: … Continue reading That time Alex Van Halen told me how Van Halen would “raise a stink” across L.A. until it paid off

That time I asked Alex Van Halen when he first figured out that Eddie had the makings of a guitar legend

By Steve Newton Everybody remembers the first time they heard Eddie Van Halen. Or they should, anyway. For me it was sometime in early ’78 when the band’s first single, “You Really Got Me”, scorched the airwaves. It was clear right away that the guy creating the six-string racket had the makings of a guitar … Continue reading That time I asked Alex Van Halen when he first figured out that Eddie had the makings of a guitar legend

That time I asked Alex Van Halen which of Van Halen’s David Lee Roth-era albums was his fave

By Steve Newton If you asked me which of Van Halen‘s David Lee Roth-era albums was my fave, I’d probably have to say the first one. I mean, that album is pretty freakin’ hard to beat. I liked Van Halen II a lot as well, but there was nothing like hearing Eddie for the first … Continue reading That time I asked Alex Van Halen which of Van Halen’s David Lee Roth-era albums was his fave

That time Jake E. Lee of Badlands told me that hearing Van Halen got him back into hard rock

By Steve Newton Millions of rock fans around the world were mesmerized by Van Halen’s sheer rockingness when it blasted onto the music scene in the late seventies. And Jake E. Lee was mightily impressed as well. When I interviewed Lee back in 1992 before a Badlands show in Vancouver we got to talking about … Continue reading That time Jake E. Lee of Badlands told me that hearing Van Halen got him back into hard rock

That time Alex Van Halen told me that Sammy Hagar was almost Van Halen’s first singer

By Steve Newton Everybody knows that David Lee Roth was Van Halen’s first singer. But not everybody knows that he almost wasn’t Van Halen’s first singer. At least that’s the “little dirt” that Alex Van Halen dished up for me when I interviewed him a quarter-century ago. Have a listen: To hear my full 21-minute interview … Continue reading That time Alex Van Halen told me that Sammy Hagar was almost Van Halen’s first singer

That time I asked Alex Van Halen about his earliest memories of jamming with Eddie

By Steve Newton I haven’t interviewed that many drummers over the years–mainly because I like talking to guitarists more–but when Van Hagar was heading to Vancouver for a show in 1995 and the opportunity came to chat with Alex Van Halen I didn’t turn it down. And boy was I glad I didn’t, because he … Continue reading That time I asked Alex Van Halen about his earliest memories of jamming with Eddie

That time Allan Holdsworth told me that he respects guitarists like Eddie Van Halen whose playing evolves naturally, on its own

By Steve Newton If you were reading the top guitar magazines back in the early ’80s you may have heard the buzz about this phenomenal British player named Allan Holdsworth. A lot of the buzz was being generated by one Eddie Van Halen, who was touting Holdsworth’s abilities whenever he got a chance. Right around … Continue reading That time Allan Holdsworth told me that he respects guitarists like Eddie Van Halen whose playing evolves naturally, on its own

That time I asked David Lee Roth if he regretted leaving Van Halen

By Steve Newton I did my first interview with David Lee Roth in June of 1994, when he was promoting his Nile Rodgers-produced album Your Filthy Little Mouth. He called me from L.A., where 10 days earlier O.J. Simpson had gone on his murderous rampage, so we chatted about the media circus surrounding that, among other things. … Continue reading That time I asked David Lee Roth if he regretted leaving Van Halen

That time I asked Steve Vai if he was daunted by stepping into Eddie Van Halen’s shoes with David Lee Roth

By Steve Newton I did my first interview with Steve Vai in May of 1990, when he was just 29. He had just released his solo album Passion and Warfare, and was touring with Whitesnake, which was then basking in the glory of its multiplatinum Slip of the Tongue album. Before Whitesnake Vai had played … Continue reading That time I asked Steve Vai if he was daunted by stepping into Eddie Van Halen’s shoes with David Lee Roth

Van Halen’s 20 best songs, from wicked to freakin’ awesome

By Steve Newton Guess I’m just more of a Dave guy. 20. “Runaround” (For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, 1991) 19. “Drop Dead Legs” (1984, 1984) 18. “You Really Got Me” (Van Halen, 1978) 17. “Oh, Pretty Woman” (Diver Down, 1982) 16. “Running With the Devil” (Van Halen, 1978) 15. “Dreams” (5150, 1986) 14. “Everybody Wants Some!!” … Continue reading Van Halen’s 20 best songs, from wicked to freakin’ awesome

Van Halen and Scorpions battle it out for stadium-rock supremacy as the Monsters of Rock tour hits Seattle

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, AUG. 5, 1988 By Steve Newton About 40,000 people paid $38.50 (Cdn) to see the marathon Monsters of Rock show at the Seattle Kingdome last Wednesday (July 27). My calculator blew up when I tried to figure out the night’s take, but I do know that the Kingdome is … Continue reading Van Halen and Scorpions battle it out for stadium-rock supremacy as the Monsters of Rock tour hits Seattle

Album review: Van Halen, OU812 (1988)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JULY 8, 1988 By Steve Newton So this album is selling like hotcakes, eh? I hear they shipped a million copies, and are still running out at a lot of record stores. Well, I know that it’s hard not to like a band that includes two stars like Eddie … Continue reading Album review: Van Halen, OU812 (1988)

Album review: Van Halen, 5150 (1986)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, APRIL 11, 1986 By Steve Newton One of the most talked about lineup changes in rock these days involves Van Halen’s switch from David Lee Roth to Sammy Hagar. “Nobody could replace Diamond Dave”, said some, while others pointed to the fine work Hagar did with influential metal band … Continue reading Album review: Van Halen, 5150 (1986)

Album review: Van Halen, Van Halen 3 (1998)

  ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, APRIL 16, 1998 By Steve Newton Ever since Sammy Hagar replaced David Lee Roth as Van Halen’s frontman on 1986’s 5150, the band’s legions of followers have been split into the Sam and Dave camps. Roth proponents feel his macho bravado and hog-in-heat performing style suited the group’s … Continue reading Album review: Van Halen, Van Halen 3 (1998)

Album review: Van Halen, Best of Volume I (1996)

    ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 19, 1996 By Steve Newton Van Halen’s first-ever greatest-hits package is a generous collection of the legendary hard-rock act’s best-known material, but it still has its faults. First off, the two new tracks that reunited the band with David Lee Roth—“Can’t Get This Stuff No More” … Continue reading Album review: Van Halen, Best of Volume I (1996)

Album review: Van Halen, Balance (1995)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, FEB. 2, 1995 By Steve Newton Eddie Van Halen is surely one of the best guitarists in rock, but I’m getting sick of only being able to hear him within the confining and predictable framework of his current band’s (mostly) run-of-the-mill tunes. The band’s last few albums have contained … Continue reading Album review: Van Halen, Balance (1995)

Annihilator’s Jeff Waters wants to see Van Halen, Kiss, Slayer, and Ozzy (with Randy Rhoads) in a club tonight

By Steve Newton Had a nice chat with Annihilator’s Jeff Waters a couple days ago, in advance of his show at the Rickshaw Theatre in Vancouver on June 15. It had been a while. The last time I interviewed him was back in 1990, when his then-Vancouver-based band had just released its second (and most … Continue reading Annihilator’s Jeff Waters wants to see Van Halen, Kiss, Slayer, and Ozzy (with Randy Rhoads) in a club tonight

That time Leslie West told me that Eddie Van Halen inspired him to get back into guitar after rehab

By Steve Newton In the Year of Our Lord, 1974, Mountain was one of my favourite bands. Back then I played the crap out of their new live album, Twin Peaks, marvelling at how totally rockin’ a cowbell could sound on “Mississippi Queen”. And Leslie West’s guitar playing wasn’t too bad either. Four years later another American … Continue reading That time Leslie West told me that Eddie Van Halen inspired him to get back into guitar after rehab

Van Halen kicks Vancouver’s ass before new singer Sammy Hagar channels Hugh Hefner backstage

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 31, 1986 By Steve Newton Things started off pretty bad at Van Halen’s B.C. Place concert last Thursday (October 23). But they got progressively better as the night wore on. And by the end of the show there were no complaints at all. The reason for the poor start was the … Continue reading Van Halen kicks Vancouver’s ass before new singer Sammy Hagar channels Hugh Hefner backstage

Tom Cochrane talks Red Rider, soft porn, and South Africa before opening for Van Halen in 1986

we are…two wild and crazy guys! ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 10, 1986 By Steve Newton Nowadays, Tom Cochrane is flying high on the charts with “Boy Inside the Man”, the first single off the new album Tom Cochrane and Red Rider. The Toronto rocker will be playing songs from that record at … Continue reading Tom Cochrane talks Red Rider, soft porn, and South Africa before opening for Van Halen in 1986

Roy Buchanan on turning down the Rolling Stones, loving Eddie Van Halen, and being flattered by Jeff Beck

me ‘n Roy backstage at the Pump, February 10, 1986 ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, FEB. 7, 1986 By Steve Newton Not many guitarists can say they were invited to join the Rolling Stones. Not many can say they turned the offer down either. But Roy Buchanan–quite possibly the best white blues guitarist in … Continue reading Roy Buchanan on turning down the Rolling Stones, loving Eddie Van Halen, and being flattered by Jeff Beck