The drummer who dazzled me with his mega set — which included multiple bass drums and an arsenal of other percussive gadgets — celebrates his birthday today.
Alex Van Halen, who teamed with younger brother Eddie to form the seminal Van Halen, turns 57.
I used to have his picture (in action, of course) in my locker during high school. I still have photos of him in files in my music room. And, of course, I have all the Van Halen CDs. I also have the first four VH albums on vinyl.
The first time I saw Van Halen was Thanksgiving night in 1982. The band was touring in support of “Diver Down.”
Lead singer David Lee Roth, while occasionally singing a full song, was more content being the buffoon who’d stop midway through songs and talk with the audience, or tell some suggestive anecdotes.
Eddie Van Halen wound up doing three show-stopping guitar solos that clocked in around 15 minutes apiece, and bassist Michael Anthony did one major bass solo but made sure the songs that were complete or at least partially complete had that thundering foundation.
However, I was focused on Alex.
His solo rocked my world. And he always gave it his all, regardless if Roth stopped the song or not.
I was able to participate in a teleconference with Alex when Van Halen reunited with Roth’s replacement, Sammy Hagar, in 2004. And in addition to being extremely intelligent, Alex Van Halen was as cool as cool can be.
It’s no secret that my favorite Van Halen album is “Fair Warning.” But my favorite song is “Light Up the Sky,” which is the first track on side two of the vinyl edition of “Van Halen II.”
The reasons are simple.
1. It’s my favorite Van Halen lineup with Alex, Eddie, Michael and David
2. Alex’s drum solo, which comes in 52 seconds before the song ends