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 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: Joe Satriani, Flying in a Blue Dream (1989)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 15, 1989 By Steve Newton Joe Satriani is the ultimate hero for air guitarists. When he burst on to the mainstream recording scene with the all-instrumental Surfing With the Alien last year, his high-voltage attack had people everywhere going, "What the hell is that?" Not since Eddie Van … Continue reading Album review: Joe Satriani, Flying in a Blue Dream (1989)

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: Joe Satriani, Surfing with the Alien (1988)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JUNE 3, 1988 By Steve Newton Boy, talk about a guitarist's wet dream! This Satriani guy comes up with some of the wildest, most innovative rock guitar sounds in many a day. He even makes Eddie Van Halen sound like a hacker! Okay, so maybe he's not that good. But if … Continue reading Album review: Joe Satriani, Surfing with the Alien (1988)

Album review: Tony MacAlpine, Edge of Insanity (1987)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, FEB. 20, 1987 By Steve Newton Tony MacAlpine is the recent discovery of talent promoter and Guitar Player magazine columnist Mike Varney, and what a find he is. On Edge of Insanity, MacAlpine performs 11 songs that feature him on guitar--with no vocals to get in the way--and he comes up … Continue reading Album review: Tony MacAlpine, Edge of Insanity (1987)

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: Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force, Marching Out (1985)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 8, 1985 By Steve Newton Swedish guitar hero Yngwie Malmsteen has been heralded as the rock guitarist of the eighties, a successor to Eddie Van Halen and the late Randy Rhoads. And there's no doubt that Yngwie is several cuts above the typical metal guitarist. But blinding speed and technical dazzle … Continue reading Album review: Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force, Marching Out (1985)

Album review: Quiet Riot, Metal Health (1983)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MARCH 25, 1983 By Steve Newton Dedicated to the memory of Randy Rhoads, the first album by his former band is one heavy chunk of vinyl. "Metal Health", "Slick Black Cadillac", and "Breathless" are all excellent, bang-your-head crotch rockers, but the album's most outstanding cuts are the bluesy "Don't Want to Let … Continue reading Album review: Quiet Riot, Metal Health (1983)

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, 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)

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

That time Allan Holdsworth told me that he didn’t really like playing to guitar players

By Steve Newton In the single week since his death last Saturday, Allan Holdsworth's name has probably been heard about as many times as it was during his entire life. Outside of the guitar cognoscenti, the pioneering jazz-fusion player has been shamefully overlooked, so much so that he's had to struggle for years just to … Continue reading That time Allan Holdsworth told me that he didn’t really like playing to guitar players

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

Humble guitar master Allan Holdsworth always struggles to pay the rent

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JULY 4, 1986 By Steve Newton Today he's regarded by critics and musicians alike as one of the most distinctive guitarists in the world. He's been the principal soloist for the likes of U.K., Gong, Bill Bruford, Soft Machine, Tony Williams' Lifeime and Jean-Luc Ponty. And he's one of … Continue reading Humble guitar master Allan Holdsworth always struggles to pay the rent

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

Will the Foo Fighters blast out some old-school Van Halen riffs in Vancouver?

By Steve Newton The Foo Fighters have been paying respects to some fine classic-rock acts on their current tour. During their last gig, in Scotland on Tuesday, the Seattle guitar-rockers played snippets of Van Halen's "Eruption", Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust", and Big Country's "In a Big Country" during the band introduction. And two days earlier … Continue reading Will the Foo Fighters blast out some old-school Van Halen riffs in Vancouver?

Mountain’s Leslie West recalls Woodstock and his band’s old warmup act, Black Sabbath

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, AUG. 1, 2002 By Steve Newton Seventies hard-rockers Mountain didn’t waste any time in getting famous. The bluesy power trio—best known for the lineup of guitarist and vocalist Leslie West, drummer Corky Laing, and bassist-vocalist Felix Pappalardi (who was shot dead by his wife in ’83)—played its first gig … Continue reading Mountain’s Leslie West recalls Woodstock and his band’s old warmup act, Black Sabbath

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

Van Halen goes mild in Vancouver while Jimmy Page watches from the wings

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 21, 1991 By Steve Newton Twice during Van Halen’s show at B.C. Place last Wednesday (November 13), shaggy-maned vocalist Sammy Hagar apologized for having throat problems and not being able to sing up to par. The second time, he added, “But the band’s hot, and that’s all that … Continue reading Van Halen goes mild in Vancouver while Jimmy Page watches from the wings

Steve Morse transforms into a different kind of person at night

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JUNE 6, 1991 By Steve Newton Guitarist Steve Morse might not be one of the best-known instrumental recording artists around; he’s certainly not as familiar to the general record-buying public as someone like Jeff Beck or Joe Satriani—or even the new-found phenomenon Eric Johnson. But the folks that do … Continue reading Steve Morse transforms into a different kind of person at night

Guitar phenom Allan Holdsworth says he’s not impressed by flash

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 11, 1983 By Steve Newton Eddie Van Halen calls him "fantastic". Gary Moore says "he's frightening. He's definitely dangerous and getting better all the time." Carlos Santana gives him "more credit than anyone for just pure expression in soloing." Journey's Neil Schon says: "If you play guitar and … Continue reading Guitar phenom Allan Holdsworth says he’s not impressed by flash

Van Halen still brings the dynamite in both hands

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, OCT. 28, 2004 By Steve Newton 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 … 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

Nicolette Larson talks Neil Young, Eddie Van Halen, and roommate Linda Ronstadt

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, FEB. 24, 2013 By Steve Newton On February 22, 1983, Nicolette Larson played Vancouver's Commodore Ballroom. It wasn't a major concert event by any means, but it was definitely a potential night out for Larson fans who'd been following her career since '78, when her debut album Nicolette spawned a hit version of … Continue reading Nicolette Larson talks Neil Young, Eddie Van Halen, and roommate Linda Ronstadt