Author: Ian Christe
Title: “Everybody Wants Some: The Van Halen Saga”
Publisher: Wiley Publishing
Release Date: 8/24/2007
During the final months of 2007 an event that Hard Rock and Metal fans had been waiting for decades to occur finally had come to pass and this of course was the reunion of the brothers Van Halen with their former singer David Lee Roth. I felt it best to begin our commentary with that bit of knowledge for the book itself leaves us wondering if this will indeed happen. “Everybody Wants Some: The Van Halen Saga” by Ian Christe is a journey back in time to the beginning of the band and how its members met and while the more noted Van Halen experts might balk at some of its contents there is really a lot of cool information to absorb when it comes down to it. We journey back to Holland and first meet the Van Halen brothers who were young musicians who performed with their Father and we learn first hand about the sparks being lit by budding guitar genius Edward Van Halen. I won’t recant every chapter but it explains how the band met up and jammed at outdoor parties and simply grew and grew during a time when Hard Rock and Heavy Metal music was being forced out the door by the likes of Disco. We meet a young David Lee Roth and Michael Anthony and learn how they joined the group and each of them offered a unique perspective to the mix as the band struggled for scene dominance and eventually secured their recording contact. Had you been a regular reader of the music magazines that saw publication during the bands early years a lot of this information might not surprise you but with the bands continued impact on modern music today there are clearly more than enough readers who will come away with mountains of detail because of what is lined out in its pages.
The majority of the comments seem to come from other articles and documents as opposed to new interviews with each of the members’ ala Motley Crue’s “The Dirt”, but despite this I did not find it a difficult read and rather enjoyed how it took me from the beginning and lined out the details one by one, album by album. So we find the inside scoop on the original lineups earliest history and a good look at the goings on when each of their historic albums were released. It was interesting to find out what the band actually thought of certain releases or songs and I admit as schooled as I believed I was in their background I learned a lot from this. We walk the path with the rising stars of Heavy Metal as album after album and tour after tour is approached and completed and its pretty interesting to go back and relive a lot of this, especially if you have followed the group for any long amount of time. If you are fan who only knew them from the Sammy Hagar years then it might be something you enjoy as you learn of how the band actually came to be the legendary powerhouse that they are. The book takes you inside a lot of the goings on and personality conflicts that led to Dave leaving or being fired, depending on whose side you are willing to accept in the drama that ensued in the band. Juggernauts of music or not, it seems that they possessed the same level of bickering that any group has over the course of their existence.
Once they deal with the chapters on David Lee Roth’s departure, the Sammy Hagar years are covered in great detail and we read about all the back and forth comments from the singers and their very public war on each other that never amounted to anything more than loud press banter. It was a giant “he said, she said”, when it came down to it. The interesting thing to find out while Sammy was a part of the band was that even though a hit making member a slow disassociation between the band and its roster was beginning. From Sammy’s departure we get the scoop on how Gary Cherone (former Extreme) did as the bands front man and watch how the group also steadily fell from the public eye and approval rating. We hear more about some of the physical ills that plagued the band and how they were dealt with and we also move toward the members finding the ability to put differences behind them and work together again in some respect. There are a nice amount of color and black and white photos presented in the middle of the book to enjoy and these are some thrilling concert shots that bring the stories you read about on its pages to larger life.
As I mentioned in the beginning of the commentary the tome leaves you off wondering if the band would ever make amends and reunite and of course as history would note this does happen to some degree in the later months of 2007. You might have known a lot of this information or even had read it over the course of their existence in various magazines or heard it on radio broadcasts and in that you might find it repetitive and offering nothing new to your inquiring mind. However, this is the chance to have all of these tales and stories and trials and pitfalls all in one place. It’s a pleasant read and it keeps your interest as opposed to finding you placing it to the side to do something else like some biographies can do to a reader. If you are a Van Halen fan I encourage you to give this one a look for yourself. I enjoyed it and feel that most music fans cannot go wrong with the first ever, fully loaded, beginning to recent time’s biography on one of the most important bands in Hard Rock and Metal music history. For an unauthorized book it certainly covered a lot of important ground.