Come the late '70s, the rock music landscape was littered with the bloated carcasses of bands who partied too hard, burned out, or became complacent in success. The door was open for something fresh, wild, and enrapturing. Enter Van Halen. Made up of two Dutch-born brothers, one on drums and the other whose guitar was an extension of his very being, a bass player with a golden throat, and a frontman who made up for his lack of singing ability with attitude and gravity-defying acrobatics onstage, they were unlike anything ever seen before.
Alex and Edward Van Halen, Michael Anthony, and David Lee Roth put a cap on one decade and exploded into the next with a brand of music not quite punk, not quite metal, and not at all subtle. They went from headlining backyard keggers to top billing at the US Festival in front of three hundred thousand people within five years. Then, right when it looked like there wasn't an obstacle created to slow the Mighty Van Halen ascent, the group imploded from the inside out, only to rebound stronger than ever with ex-Montrose howler Sammy Hagar leading them to four consecutive number one albums.
Van Halen: The Eruption and the Aftershock tells the story of how one of America's greatest bands weathered arguably the most dramatic soap opera in rock and roll history with songs that would weave themselves into the fabric of every musician who heard them, alongside an incendiary and unrivaled live show. Featuring exclusive interviews with insiders, fans, and artists who were there to witness the rise, the tumult, and the making of legends, it's a story that has to be read to be believed.
Michael Christopher is a journalist and music historian. He is the author of Depeche Mode FAQ: All That's Left to Know About the World's Finest Synth-Pop Band. A senior writer for the online music magazine Vanyaland, where he was a founding member and later managing editor, he contributes regularly to Ultimate Classic Rock, Loudwire, and LA Weekly. He also has a music and lifestyle column in the Daily Times, a newspaper in the Philadelphia metro region. His work has appeared in the Boston Phoenix, Boston Magazine, Rockpile, and Diffuser. He lives in Boston, building a respectable vinyl collection.
NetGalley Review: 4 stars
Last updated on 27 Sep 2021
"This was a really fun, informative book about one of the most popular rock bands of the 1980s. I myself wasn't an Uber-fan, but some of my young friends were. The first time Van Halen came into my consciousness was with its huge MTV hits "Jump" and "Hot for Teacher" (which must make the top ten list of Videos You Could Never Make Now). It was a nice trip down memory lane to get the stories behind how the albums and songs of my youth came to be, and how the band's formative years - before my time - came to be. I was glad that the book didn't concentrate too much on the partying and womanizing aspects of the band, which I'm sure went on - this was the 80s, after all - but isn't that interesting to me. I stopped quite a bit while reading to look up videos and then even reaction videos to the videos. That epic solo Eddie Van Halen did of "Eruption" live is quite something! No doubt he is one of the best guitarists of the past 100 years. There also were some fascinating little tidbits I never would have guessed, such as that David Lee Roth's voice was considered so poor that there was a big push to replace him right after the band was signed. I always thought his intelligent and semi-comical delivery was one of the band's great strengths. Not to mention his on stage acrobatics.
All in all a very entertaining read."—CG Twiles, rewviewer at Muradal Publishing
Last updated on 05 Oct 2021
"What a good story.
I normally prefer memoirs, but the author manages to captivate the star that EVH was.
He also does a good job of giving us an overhaul impression, with some interesting tidbits along the way.
Well researched and well written.
Great pace."—Tina Avon, reviewer at bookshipper.blogspot.com
NetGalley Review: 5 stars
Last updated on 08 Oct 2021
"I received an advance reader copy of this book from the publisher through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
While I have enjoyed a lot of Van Halen’s music (regardless of whether it was David Lee Roth or Sammy Hagar singing), I have never been an extremely passionate fan of the band. After reading a book earlier this year about the emergence of hair bands in the 1980s that dated the beginning of that movement to the signing of Van Halen’s first record deal, I immediately put in a request to read this book when I first saw the listing for it on Net Galley.
The book begins with a brief biographical section about Eddie and Alex Van Halen’s childhood, then moves on to the evolution of their band up until the addition of lead singer David Lee Roth. Once that happens, the book shifts into a year-by-year account of the band’s career. Through this book’s album-by-album detailing of all the Van Halen albums and the hit songs on them, I gained a deeper appreciation of the sheer number of recognizable songs the band created. I now realize that Van Halen is greatly underrepresented in my music library.
A major portion of the book covers the drama surrounding who would be Van Halen’s lead singer, a controversial topic that began with David Lee Roth’s departure from the group after their 1984 album, and his subsequent replacement by Sammy Hagar. The controversy didn’t end there, as it dragged on for years and still remains a hot topic of discussion among the group’s fans today.
I gave Van Halen five stars on Goodreads. I’ve really come to enjoy these kind of music ‘biographies’ because they help fill in gaps in my knowledge during the times in my life when I didn’t follow music as closely as I did when I was younger."—Chris Owens, consumer reviewer
"Amazing book. Only a few people will get Van Halen’s insides."
—Stephen Pearcy, Ratt
"It’s an explosive legacy. It’s cemented. They kicked every ass that was in front of them."
—Philip H. Anselmo, Pantera/Down
"I was part of Van Halen's PR team at Warner Bros. in the late '70s. I cried and I laughed out loud more than a few times while reading this book, recognizing occurrences I hadn't thought about in decades. The Van Halen I knew is on these pages, and Michael has painted a brilliant portrait of them."
—Heidi Ellen Robinson-Fitzgerald, HERFitz PR
“There’s only one Van Halen, and they were really, really good.”
—Tony Iommi, Black Sabbath