So I got the new Van Halen CD/T-shirt package as a gift. Normally I dont buy CDs anymore I just purchase the music to download on iTunes or Zune. Since it was a gift….who would complain eh? I have been a huge fan of Van Halen since I was a kid. Edward Van Halen is the main reason I picked up a guitar at age five. Back in my youth I was a spoiled kid. Eh im still spoiled lol. I had cable TV in my bedroom including HBO and Skinemax. Of course most of the time my TV was tuned to channel 32 or in other words…..MTV. Thus back in the day when MTV really played music videos. At one point I could name every video and artist that came out. Sadly today MTV is full of rap shit and reality TV like that how Snooki whom I would love to slap the shit out of personally and you also have Teen Mom. Now I have mixed thoughts on that but I do watch it from time to time. The idea of teen mothers today makes me laugh. Yeah they think they are smart but they aren’t. Ok ok so back to music. The first video that really had an impact on me was Jump from Van Halen off the 1984 album. Seeing Eddie do the guitar solo and play keyboards. I was blown away. I would grab this old tennis racket my grandfather gave me and jump on my bed and act like I was Eddie Van Halen on stage and I would “Jump” off my bed onto the floor. You know my chubby ass learned this with precision after a few times LOL. At this time I was well aware of Van Halen, Rush, Black Sabbath and Ozzy as a solo artist with Randy Rhoads on guitar. These bands videos were in pretty heavy rotation and they became the stepping stones to my path of guitar wizardry if you call it that lol.
Van Halen stuck out mostly. Although I loved all the songs from the other bands, EVH would get in front of the camera and perform the famous two-handed tapping which I wanted to learn so much. I would practice this even on the tennis racket. lol. A few years later around 8 years old I took guitar lessons from a guy named Dave Maroul. He was a local badass that could play everything. VH, Satriani…etc. I would watch this guy play my electric and I would be blown away. I always told him I wanted to learn EVH style. He said, “You must learn the basics first and get them down perfect before I will attempt to teach you any songs.” He was right. Its essential! He did teach me one easy song. Smoke on the Water from Deep Purple. I thought I was a fucking badass because I could play this. When I took lessons at this little store called H&N Music, I didnt have an acoustic. My father bought me this Dimebag Darrell style lightning bolt electric guitar. I dont even remember the brand name but it was this metallic blue with a gray stripe trim and a mahogany fretboard with dual humbucker pick-ups. I loved that guitar. Wish I had kept it over all these years but thats what I took my lessons on. I remember Dave would go out to the store sales floor and grab either this little Crate amp or this Gorilla amp and we would spend the next hour in this little room while I watched and learned. Starting with the Ernie Ball How to Play Guitar Books 1&2. Then learning from Dave himself and his style. He then taught me EVH’s two-handed tapping. I told him I was learning it on my own so he asked me to show him. I tapped close but just a bit off. He then showed me how to TAP….Pull-Off….Hammer On! This was easy enough. Skipping strings was different. Totally different lol.
So Van Halen definitely is part of the soundtrack to my life. I was a bit disappointed when David Lee Roth was gone and Sammy Hagar took over but I grew to like those songs as well. Sammy is a great artist himself. Actually if you read his book you learn quite a bit about how touring life was with the Van Halens. Eddie was quite unbearable but that doesn’t stop me from looking at him as one of my main influences. I always dreamed of owning that famous Kramer guitar. Well one like it. Of course now they have the Fender re-issue but ive moved on muscially and equipment wise to different styles. Today I use Gibson Alex Lifeson Axccess Signature Guitars with the added Floyd Rose and piezo pickup. I also use PRS SE Custom 24s with their standard tremolo bridge. These guitars are geared more towards my sound now. But hey I was a little kid that dreamed big and always thought one day I would be EVH, famous and owning a roomful of guitars as he does. Well that sort of came true. Im not a rockstar but fuck I work for them. Thats a dream come true enough for me. I met Edward Van Halen for the first time at the Monsters of Rock Tour. I forget all the bands now but I do believe it was Van Halen, Metallica, Scorpions and not too sure. My uncle knew a guy that worked security and he briefly got us backstage and there I saw my guitar hero. Standing with no shirt holding that very guitar I loved so much. He was wearing white pants and had that puffy ass hairdo. lol. We walked over to where he was with the security guard and he told him, “excuse me sir but this young man wanted to say hi. He is a big fan of yours.” Eddie shook my hand and said hi. I told him i started playing guitar because of him. He said, “thats rad man.” Then wailed out one of his trademark horsie harmonics and did a huge dive bomb with the bar. He was hooked up to this small practice amp. All I could do was say WOW! The coolest part was that he gave me a EVH guitar pick which I still have to this day. It is white with black print. I remember I touched his Kramer guitar with my index finger and I was like FUCK YES!!! I DID IT! I mean to be that young and meet someone like him and the guitar that made him so famous….it was epic for me! Eddie shook my hand again and messed up all my hair. He said, “cool man now you look like a rockstar.” This is when he gave me the guitar pick. I was like WHOOOOOOOA! Then he said enjoy the show and he walked off with that funny smile he does. That was that. We went back out along the fence line and they was throwing huge trash can size piles of water on us because it was summer and hot as all fuck. I’d like to say Eddie said, “this song goes out to my little friend…” but that didn’t happen lol. Either way it was a fucking cool moment. This made me want to go home and learn even more!
Years and years later I met Edward again backstage. I knew I was going to that show or working it and I put that same guitar pick in my pocket. Of course I had it in a plastic sleeve to protect it. I saw Eddie and by now he had a haircut and goatee and was smoking as usual. I went over to say hi and he shook my hand. I told him about how I met him when I was a kid backstage at Monsters of Rock and he gave me a white Van Halen pick. I took it out of my pocket and showed it to him and he was like….”Wow man, thats some real history! Don’t lose that!” I told him, “oh hell no I won’t!” We chatted and he vaguely remembered meeting me with the security guard and he played that horsie harmonic. I thought that was cool he remembered that unless he does that all the time lol. So anyway he gave me a handful of Van Halen guitar picks this time. Told me….”dont put these on ebay man lol” Hell no I wouldn’t. The guy is my long time idol. Why would I? I also met Alex Van Halen as well. I got a pair of his drumsticks. Made out like a bandit that night!
So this post brings me to 2012 and the release of the bands newest album titled….well its in the title of this post……A Different Kind of Truth. Of course Edward on guitar/keyboards, Alex on drums but now Eddie’s son Wolfgang on bass as Michael Anthony is no longer in the band. Also David Lee Roth is back on vocals. The CD is thirteen tracks. I got as a gift the special set with the CD and a Large Van Halen T-shirt. Score! I wasn’t too sure if I would like listening to newer VH but its worth a listen and since its free I couldn’t complain. So just a while ago I ripped the CD to my PC and it sounds pretty good. Definitely has that VH sound. Eddie’s trademark brown sound is quite apparent. The only thing I didnt like sound wise was Eddie’s clean sound. I would have doctored it up a bit to my own taste. lol. It needed a bit more life for my taste but hey its all good. David Lee Roth still sounds like himself but with age his vocals have deteriorated a bit. Well maybe more. Yet he pulls off the songs. I really like the CD. Its certainly not one of their best by any means but it has potential for some good songs. The solos are pretty damn rad. I think mostly what was odd for my first listening experience was how David’s voice varies from before. Then again these are new songs not classics like Jump, Panama, Top Jimmy…etc. So I really am giving the album a chance and so far I give it a good firm B+! I haven’t heard it all yet so that could change but not for the worse.
In closing, Van Halen is a band that left its mark on my life. My history of music shall I say. I’ve said for ages that music and people evolve. We as well must evolve with the times or else we fall behind and get lost. VH is just one of many artists that have made me the musician I am today. Maybe some of you reading don’t care for the band, rock music or the fact that I play guitar but let me tell you….at 36 years old today I worked my ass off for damn near 31 years learning how to play and perfecting my own style. So as I end this post with a bit more history of myself I want to leave you with some pics. I wish more people took an active interest in some of my life stories. I think they are quite interesting. I guess if I had a bigger following on here I would but hell I wont get in over my head lol. Included below are a few pics. One is of the new CD package and the t-shirt. Well the t-shirt is still in the packaging and ill probably keep it that way. The next picture is of a blue Van Halen cap my father bought me back in 1982! Yes 1982. He bought me the cap when he went to South Texas to begin training to work for the Texas Prison System. A small store was nearby where he stopped to put gas and shit and he saw the cap and bought it for me. He knew Van Halen was my fav band at the time and EVH was my guitar idol. Hence this cap which the adjustable part of it is broken now but the cap is still in great condition after all these years. Proving I take care of shit and Van Halen will stand the test of time and they are legendary no matter what!!!
I hope to once again chill with Edward Van Halen on this tour and his son Wolfgang. We shall see!
Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed another deep look into my childhood!
Vintage Van Halen Cap from 1982