Author: Neil Zlozower
Title: “Van Halen: A Visual History 1978-1984”
Label: Chronicle Books
Release Date: 11/12/2007
Genre: Photographic History
If you have ever followed the fascinating history of the mighty Van Halen and remember their most classic photos from the bygone days when Rock & Metal magazines ruled the Earth then you will most likely also recall the name of the photographer who was behind most of them. That man is Neil Zlozower for those who are for whatever reason scratching their heads and he started shooting the band when they first came into the larger public eye at its beginning. His photo retrospective of their history spans those classic years from 1978-1984 and hence focuses only on the David Lee Roth era and does not feature anything with Sammy Hagar who took Roth’s place not long after that famous year. The visual history is almost a play by play of the band as they hit the studio, photo shoots, and live performances and it follows them from their self-titled debut up until their last album together which was “1984”. It’s a seven year span of time in which we get to enjoy the band during their beginnings as a group that seemed loaded with promise to the eventual juggernaut and musical force of nature that they became over the years and successfully seemed able to maintain in both music and image. This was a band full of Rock Stars and the images on these pages speak volumes about how they did it and how much fun it was to be a part of their world and a fan of what they do. As I glanced through the book I found myself going back in time to when I rushed to the corner newsstand to snare the latest copy of magazines like Creem and Hit Parader to see what world that they would take me to and without aging myself, I clearly remember seeing many of the images now in this book when they were originally new shots of the band. For me as a fan of Hard Rock and Metal, Van Halen is in my top three bands and I believe I have kept them as the second only to KISS in my worship of the greats for decades. Of course being second in my own list didn’t seem to affect my diehard admiration for Van Halen and if they were featured anywhere in those aforementioned magazines, I would run out to grab them on a regular basis. Having the chance to enjoy all of Neil’s photos in one place in beautiful color and crisp black and white tones was just fantastic.
The presented photo archive is a wonderful thing in and of itself and like I said just before shows the band in a wide variety of settings and doing all of the things that you would expect a band like Van Halen to be involved in. There are many, many live concert shots that come from right under the bands noses and from way out in the trenches of the teeming audiences. We see a number of what appear to be the photographer proof pages where the best of the batch were selected and there are also a number of the press photos as well. Visually this is quite a bit to absorb and enjoy and the over-sized book spans a whopping 230 pages. While I am pretty sure that most readers out there like at least a handful of Van Halen tunes and hold fond memories of what the band means to them, the book offers us a vast amount of artist commentary that spans the same years that the book covers. We find out exactly what folks like Gene Simmons, Lemmy, Rob Halford and more artists than you can count thought about Van Halen and their show, presentation and overall Rock and Roll vibe. It’s really interesting to read all of the comments and who knows, perhaps you are in agreement with them. This book comes as a very high recommendation and I suggest that when you purchase it that you take your time enjoying it. There are too many relevant points brought up by the photographer and the other musical luminaries that bring the already larger than life images to quantum levels of greatness. Nice work Neil, thanks for letting us see Van Halen through your eyes so many times.