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

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

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: David Lee Roth, Skyscraper (1988)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, FEB. 12. 1988 By Steve Newton Old Diamond Dave had his hands full surpassing his 1986 LP Eat 'Em and Smile, but with this new one, Skyscraper, he's certainly done just that. In his first endeavour as producer Roth has come up with a brilliantly played and varied hard-rock album … Continue reading Album review: David Lee Roth, Skyscraper (1988)

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)

There’s always hope for Van Halen as long as Diamond Dave can bang that high note

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JUNE 26, 2003 By Steve Newton Judging by the photo montage in the booklet of David Lee Roth’s new CD, Diamond Dave, it’s clear the former Van Halen howler hasn’t jettisoned the boisterously cheesy persona he cultivated during his early-’80s solo career, when flamboyant videos for “California Girls” and … Continue reading There’s always hope for Van Halen as long as Diamond Dave can bang that high note

Alvin Youngblood Hart loves Southern rock, was an Allman Brother for a night

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MAY 25, 2000 By Steve Newton Until now, Alvin Youngblood Hart has been best-known as an acoustic folk-blues performer. His first two albums—1996’s Big Mama’s Door and 1998’s Territory—showed him carrying a traditional torch similar to that of blues revivalists Taj Mahal and Guy Davis. So it comes as … Continue reading Alvin Youngblood Hart loves Southern rock, was an Allman Brother for a night

Bass god Billy Sheehan pooh-poohs Mr. Big’s supergroup status

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 8, 1989 By Steve Newton Seeing a destined-to-be-huge band in a small venue can make for one of the most memorable nights in any rock fan's existence. Kiss at the Commodore, Jeff Healey at the Yale, Living Colour at the Town Pump, Metallica at the New York Theatre--those … Continue reading Bass god Billy Sheehan pooh-poohs Mr. Big’s supergroup status

David Lee Roth says he doesn’t regret leaving Van Halen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JULY 8, 1994 By Steve Newton With all the frenzied media attention and intense public speculation surrounding the O.J. Simpson case, it's hard to keep a fair handle on the whole sordid affair. Even such trusted news sources as A Current Affair and the National Enquirer have gotten caught up in the circus. … Continue reading David Lee Roth says he doesn’t regret leaving Van Halen

Steve Vai on his long fingers, long feet, long arms, and…”you know”

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 25, 1997 By Steve Newton On the cover of his Grammy-nominated Alien Love Secrets CD, Steve Vai strikes a pose while covered in metallic-blue body paint. He’s got his hands over his face and is peering out from between fingers that are so long, you’d think one of … Continue reading Steve Vai on his long fingers, long feet, long arms, and…”you know”

Alex Van Halen dishes “a little dirt” on who the original VH vocalist could have been

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 7, 1995 By Steve Newton Sometimes it seems as if there are two kinds of people in the world: David Lee Roth folks and Sammy Hagar folks. Dave folks are kind of a wild bunch—they prefer their music with a raw edge, full of primitive, howling vocals and … Continue reading Alex Van Halen dishes “a little dirt” on who the original VH vocalist could have been

Steve Vai talks Zappa, dreams, blow-jobs, and Passion & Warfare

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JUNE 7, 1990 By Steve Newton In rock guitar circles, Steve Vai is the type of personality that Entertainment Tonight might giddily term hot. Walk into any magazine shop, glance at the rock ’n’ roll section, and chances are you’ll see the handsome, raven-haired guitarist grinning wickedly from a cover … Continue reading Steve Vai talks Zappa, dreams, blow-jobs, and Passion & Warfare

Van Halen still brings the dynamite in both hands

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, OCT. 28, 2004 MUCH HAS BEEN made of the Sam & Dave controversy in regard to American hard-rock legends Van Halen. There are those who scoff at the idea of the band existing without original vocalist David Lee Roth, while others feel that his replacement, Sammy Hagar, has done a bang-up job. … Continue reading Van Halen still brings the dynamite in both hands

After Van Halen’s Vancouver show the jury’s still out on whether Dave or Sammy rule

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, DEC. 12, 2007 The vast majority of people at last week's (December 5) Van Halen show appeared to be males between the ages of 30 and 50, eager to reconnect with the unbridled guitar-rock noise that erupted straight outta Pasadena when David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen hooked up. I … Continue reading After Van Halen’s Vancouver show the jury’s still out on whether Dave or Sammy rule

Van Halen’s Vancouver show reveals its glory days are fading fast

photo by rebecca blissett ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, MAY 8, 2012 Some rock bands from the '70s can still bring the dynamite in both hands. The last time I saw Aerosmith—at Rogers Arena in 2010—they overcame rumours of a pending breakup by delivering a flawless, electrifying set. And two years before that, AC/DC roared through … Continue reading Van Halen’s Vancouver show reveals its glory days are fading fast