“Do you know what, David? You are my new favorite blond."
February 25, 2015 8:35 AM   Subscribe

The private photo shoot that sparked a war within Van Halen. A session with photographer Helmut Newton exposed tensions within the band, revealing and exacerbating the rift between David Lee Roth and the Van Halen brothers. The article does not explore whether Sammy Hagar, sitting in a distant supervillain lair, tented his fingers and smiled in satisfaction as his sinister plan bore fruit.
posted by the phlegmatic king (43 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
Hilarious, especially the picture under the words 'Everybody Wants Some!!' featuring, left to right, a worried troll, a cheery troll, a pouting man with long hair and Tom of Finland trousers, and a sullen troll, 'in May 1978.'
posted by Mocata at 8:51 AM on February 25, 2015


Interesting stuff. I had no idea the original album came with that Helmut Newton poster. I had the 8-track so missed out. I guess that gives me something to look for in the used bins now.
posted by Otis at 8:55 AM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


This was a great find. Thanks for posting.

I bet spending time with David Lee Roth would be fun.
posted by wittgenstein at 9:06 AM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


They had two platinum albums under their belts, and their latest, Van Halen II, had even cracked the Billboard Top Ten. These were significant achievements for a hard rock band at time when disco and new wave dominated the nation’s airwaves.

I am pretty sure that new wave did not dominate the nation's airwaves in 1978 and 1979 At least not this nation's airwaves.
posted by layceepee at 9:09 AM on February 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


"I bet spending time with David Lee Roth would be fun."

Did it. Wasn't.
posted by nevercalm at 9:10 AM on February 25, 2015 [30 favorites]


For some reason, it never occurred to me before seeing this picture that Lestat, in his rockstar persona, is David Lee Roth.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:14 AM on February 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


I haven't had a drink in three years, but those photos of Alex Van Halen make me feel hungover. Someone call in to my work, OK?

Also: "They tried to make us look like The Clash!"
posted by thelonius at 9:17 AM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


The caption that came immediately to mind when looking at that photo of Newton was, "a slightly less gormless George Bush, with a 'Smile for daddy!' look on his face."
posted by ardgedee at 9:42 AM on February 25, 2015


It's a testament to David Lee Roth's sheer charisma that a guy with that hairline and that singing voice and that punum could propel himself to the level of sex symbol and rock & roll superstar.
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:51 AM on February 25, 2015 [9 favorites]


Wait a minute, nevercalm, you can't just say that and not give details! At least some details.
posted by holborne at 10:02 AM on February 25, 2015


Did it. Wasn't.

OK, you definitely have to expound on this a little bit.
posted by kgasmart at 10:03 AM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Great article. Relevant to my interests. Every EVH needs a DLR, and vice-versa.
posted by The World Famous at 10:10 AM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I'm with holborne and kgasmart on this, nevercalm. Talk.
posted by dlugoczaj at 10:21 AM on February 25, 2015


Everybody wants some of Nevercalm's story. I want some too!
posted by Renoroc at 10:56 AM on February 25, 2015 [10 favorites]


While we're all (myself included) waiting for nevercalm's story with bated breath, can I just point out the pants on these lads?

They are LITERALLY AMAZEBALLS.
posted by pwe at 11:01 AM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Unfortunately, it was via work so I'm not really able to say too much. But...it was an early call, for an early show, he wasn't on time, or prepared, or......well, show-ready. That's as far as I'm willing to go in a public forum.

To sum up, there were a bunch of Van Halen guys on the crew who were in that sweet spot of an age when those early VH albums came out who were all tripping over their jaws when he walked in who left with bad tastes in their mouths by the end of the day. It wasn't a great experience at all. Bad enough that as much as I love the idea that the green or brown or whatever colored M&M story was to protect the band and us crew people building the stages, I was left feeling like it was really more bc they were all just giant dicks.

Sorry to disappoint!
posted by nevercalm at 11:02 AM on February 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


They are LITERALLY AMAZEBALLS.

...which enables us to see that Alex dresses to the left, and Eddie to the right.
posted by the matching mole at 11:07 AM on February 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


I've always thought there was something very like Klaus Kinski in Roth. I am not disabused from that notion from this article.
posted by droplet at 11:12 AM on February 25, 2015 [7 favorites]


I've always thought that Roth's famous explanation for the brown M&M thing in the tour rider was complete bullshit. As if some overambitious tour promoter couldn't look at the rider and go, "OK, we can't do that... can't do that... brown M&Ms? Sure, my idiot nephew can take care of that. Fuck it, the only thing the band probably cares about is what ends up in their dressing rooms, let's do it." And, as mildly interesting as some of the story about the photo shoot is, it only confirms what should be obvious: that DLR's ego kept him from being in a band named after someone else for any great length of time. Far from being this incredible, transgressive bit of art that the article suggests that it is, that pic of DLR looks like something that Roth would have airbrushed onto the side of his own van.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:16 AM on February 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


Something similar to this led to the breakup of the Talking Heads. But if that story isn't already out there, I'm not going to relate personal conversations here.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:29 AM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Something similar to this led to the breakup of the Talking Heads. But if that story isn't already out there, I'm not going to relate personal conversations here.

That reminds me of a thing a friend of mine wrote quite a while ago, a report from the alternate universe where Van Halen were the niche indie darlings struggle in the shadow of popular giant Elvis Costello.
posted by the phlegmatic king at 11:33 AM on February 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


"Armadillos in our trousers."
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:52 AM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Something similar to this led to the breakup of the Talking Heads. But if that story isn't already out there, I'm not going to relate personal conversations here.

I'm not sure if know anything about what you're referring to, but when I once looked into the breakup of Talking Heads, it looked to me like David Byrne announced to a journalist that the group was broken up, which took all of the other members of the group completely by surprise.
posted by jonp72 at 12:08 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


David Byrne announced to a journalist that the group was broken up

That's the only story I've ever heard and he's also the reason the band has never reformed or even played together since.
posted by tommasz at 12:19 PM on February 25, 2015


... the alternate universe where Van Halen were the niche indie darlings struggling in the shadow of popular giant Elvis Costello.

I remember DLR saying in an interview back in the 80s that he thought Costello was popular with music critics because Costello dressed like them.
posted by the matching mole at 12:24 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Laughing stock band and guitarist.
posted by colie at 12:26 PM on February 25, 2015


Alex dresses to the left, and Eddie to the right.

Not sure it's that simple.
posted by colie at 12:31 PM on February 25, 2015


After a spirited conversation, Newton exclaimed, “Do you know what, David? You are my new favorite blond. I would love to shoot photos of you.”

Coming from Helmut Newton that's saying something!
posted by TedW at 12:36 PM on February 25, 2015


Laughing stock band and guitarist.
colie

Can you expand on what you mean? Maybe now, but back in their heyday they were kings and Eddie was hailed as the god of guitar.
posted by Sangermaine at 1:32 PM on February 25, 2015


guys on the crew who were in that sweet spot of an age when those early VH albums came out who were all tripping over their jaws when he walked in who left with bad tastes in their mouths by the end of the day

This seems to be the story of almost every band I liked when I was young.

It was interesting looking back on the photos. At the time (circa age 16) I thought DLR was the hottest thing imaginable. Now my reaction is more ewww how the hell did that creepy dude trigger my latent queer desires?
posted by kanewai at 1:36 PM on February 25, 2015


Laughing stock band and guitarist.

Sure, but that's a pretty good description of every rich and famous rock band. Becoming rich and famous as a band with a guitarist inevitably means being considered a laughing stock at some point. The only way around it seems to be to die young.

I mean, OK, the Police are "laughing stock band and bassist," but that's splitting hairs. What huge rock band cannot accurately be described that way?
posted by The World Famous at 3:00 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


At the time (circa age 16) I thought DLR was the hottest thing imaginable. Now my reaction is more ewww how the hell did that creepy dude trigger my latent queer desires?

At least in the eighties, he had a lot of charisma and a thin veneer of not taking himself too seriously, which put together got him a couple of platinum-selling solo albums before people figured out that there weren't really any good songs on them.
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:14 PM on February 25, 2015


So moldering somewhere, perhaps in Eddie’s 5150 studio vault, is more lost visual evidence of the devil-may-care, gonzo attitude that made Van Halen into superstars. And as rock fans everywhere know, you can’t get that stuff no more.

Wow. As the years pass, I hear more and more anecdotes like this. Like in Slash's book, when he talks about how G'NR filmed practically everything around the double-album release, and now it's just sitting in some vault. I really hope that some time before I die, I get to see some of this stuff.
posted by heatvision at 3:35 PM on February 25, 2015


I have never hung out with Diamond Dave; after viewing a chunk of the documentary The Rage Beyond the Stage, about the ill-fated Roth-Hagar concert tour, I don't think I would want to.

Essential viewing for anyone who, like me, has ever called themselves a fan of Van Halen.
posted by Dr. Wu at 4:04 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


David Byrne announced to a journalist that the group was broken up

That's the only story I've ever heard and he's also the reason the band has never reformed or even played together since.


That is, unless you count Tom Tom Club (without David Byrne).
posted by eye of newt at 4:39 PM on February 25, 2015


Dr. Wu: "I have never hung out with Diamond Dave; after viewing a chunk of the documentary The Rage Beyond the Stage, about the ill-fated Roth-Hagar concert tour, I don't think I would want to."

You're not wrong Dave, you're just an asshole.
posted by notsnot at 7:19 PM on February 25, 2015


I would be remiss in not linking content from a previous thread. Here ya go, and I am not sorry.
posted by iamabot at 10:57 PM on February 25, 2015


Ah, if we're going to link to content from previous threads then this is compulsory.
posted by h00py at 5:27 AM on February 26, 2015


My brother had a friend who worked security for bands in the early 80s while he was in grad school. He did one summer with Van Halen. He said Michael and Alex were all about the party, Dave has so full of himself that his assholeishness could be seen from space, and Eddie would avoid the party and get drunk with the crew and security.

That all said, the reunion album from a couple years ago was far better than it had a right to be. No synths, no power ballads, most of the songs at an unrelenting tempo, and a sober EVH on lead guitar. When this song hits fifth gear it BLISTERS. Who knows if they'll ever get it together for another album but if they don't they went out with all guns blazing.
posted by Ber at 6:05 AM on February 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


eye of newt: David Byrne announced to a journalist that the group was broken up

That's the only story I've ever heard and he's also the reason the band has never reformed or even played together since.


That is, unless you count Tom Tom Club (without David Byrne).
The Beatles != George Harrison's All Things Must Pass with Ringo Starr.

I'd say "!= Wings", but nothing TH nor TTC ever released was that bad.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:43 PM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


They did get back together for one performance in 2002.

posted by rewil at 4:12 PM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think the track "Everybody Wants Some" may be one of the first songs that linked rock music and sex for me, and I was just hitting puberty at this time.

Thing is, I came across Fair Warning first, and the sleeve photo made me think "These aren't the prettiest chicks out there, but they rock. Singer is one SERIOUS alto."

True stories, both.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 3:53 PM on February 27, 2015


eye of newt: "That is, unless you count Tom Tom Club (without David Byrne)."

Or when Tina, Chris, and Jerry recorded an album as The Heads.

I remember reading somewhere - the AV Club? - "the album reveals what the members would least like to hear - that they are David Byrne's highly talented backing band."
posted by Chrysostom at 1:11 PM on March 12, 2015


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