Everybody Wants Some: The Van Halen Saga Paperback – Aug 1 2008
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""Respect is due to author Ian Christe. His book is perfectly pitched, capturing both the flamboyant excitement and inherent absurdity..."" (Classic Rock UK, February 2008)
From the Inside Flap
What kind of a band turns rock music inside out, sells 75 million albums, and sets concert attendance records, then vanishesnot even appearing on the night of their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Come backstage for a complete close encounter with the multitalented and misunderstood Van Halen, the ultimate American rock stars.
For the first time, Everybody Wants Some tells the complete uncensored story of Van Halen, whose charming smiles and musical chemistry survived misfit childhoods, sibling rivalry, nasty bouts with tabloid snoops, painful divorces, bitter band breakups, long-term substance abuse, and harrowing brushes with cancer.
You'll follow Eddie and Alex van Halen from their quiet but music-filled boyhoods in Holland through their transformative years in Southern California, where seeing the Dave Clark Five on the Ed Sullivan Show turned them away from classical music and into stone rockers overnight.
You'll meet David Lee Roth, whose hyperactive childhood was a prelude to his manic adult life as the ultimate rock showman. And you'll discover why easygoing bassist Michael Anthony, who lent the Van Halen brothers equipment even though he played in a rival local band, responded to his first meeting with Roth by saying, "Get that guy away from me."
You'll sit with Sammy Hagar, whose struggles for acceptance as replacement singer led the band to unexpected placesincluding four consecutive number one albums. And don't forget Gary CheroneVan Halen's much younger, and nearly forgotten, third singer. After years of struggle as a cover band from Pasadena, ?Van Halen exploded out of the Hollywood rock scene in 1978, and the rest is history . . . and myth . . . and legend . . . and rumor . . . and gossip. Ian Christe separates fact from fiction in his account of the band's most stunning exploits, as they elevated fun with groupies, circus-like stage spectacles, MTV videos, and bizarre contract riders to hedonistic art forms. Christe also reveals the truth behind Roth's separation from the band, Van Halen's great success but difficult relationship with Sammy Hagar, and Eddie's marriage to sweetheart TV actress Valerie Bertinelli.
Now firmly ensconced in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Van Halen still grabs headlines whenever someone whispers the magic words, "reunion tour." Everybody Wants Some brings the saga of Van Halenfrom young lions to troubled monarchsto vivid life in all of its exuberant, decadent, vulnerable, and awesome dimensions. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Left unanswered were things like: Donn Landee - engineer on all the albums until For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge and co-visionary of the 5150 studio. Why was he not hired for this session? Why did Billy Sheehan and Steve Vai leave David's band? Why have Alex and Eddie turned on Michael Anthony?
The book seems to focus totally on David, Eddie and Sammy. I don't believe the author even provides locales of where Alex and Michael were living from the days the band recorded at 5150 and at the height of their fame.
Overall, a passable narrative of the band and its activities but I believe there could be a lot more insight.
Now if you are a fan of the Sammy Hagar line-up this is the book for you. The albums and tours and Eddie's falling out with Sammy are all told very well. There are plenty of quotes from all members of this line-up to let you inside and see how it all went wrong. If only the original line-up had been covered this thoroughly in the book. Gary Cherone's brief tenure in the band is wrapped up in a bow. One album, one tour, one big mistake. The reunion with Sammy Hagar and the bands few attempts to put the original line-up back together are detailed nicely. All in all it is a good book, but not great. For that Ian Christie would have had to dug deeper into the Roth years.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
So, before picking on the details, let's get the obvious out of the way. Alex and Eddie Van Halen are musical geniuses. They were both the kind of wunderkind that in an earlier age gave us Mozart. David Lee Roth is a hyperactive, strutting ego-maniac, custom made to rise in the era of MTV, where appearance and flash became far more important than actual talent and skill (though Dave has both - just not as much as he thinks.)
Given this kind of material to work with, this book should scream with pathos, grit, defeat and triumph. Unfortunately, it just doesn't.
As I was working my way through the book, I became aware that there were no dramatic build-ups, no tensions leading up to, for example, David Lee Roth's split from the band. Essentially, there's no insider insight.
This is because Christe only presents what the public already knows. The book is essentially a distillation of every news report, MTV interview, or magazine article concerning the band from their earliest inception to the present. Yes, it's well documented - but there's virtually no first person research. From cover to cover, I couldn't find any evidence that Christe had ever interviewed any member of the band. In fact, the entire book reads more like a stack of newspaper clippings than an exposé.
As a consequence, remarkable turns in the lives of everyone associated with Van Halen are rendered pedestrian and seem to pass by in a workmanlike fashion:
"David Lee Roth joins the band: Check."
"Valerie Bertinelli marries Eddie: Check."
"David Lee Roth quits the band: Check"
"Valerie Bertinelli quits Eddie: Check ..."
You get the idea. It's unfortunate, because the band is only recently undergoing something of a renaissance these days and this kind of looks like something put together to capitalize on that resurgence. Or maybe the paean of a devoted fan. But not the kind of intuitive, investigative band bio I've read on other subjects (especially Streissguth's "Johnny Cash: The Biography" and Gene Simmon's "Kiss and Make-up.)
Still, the book makes for an interesting, if not compelling, read. It's convenient to have all of these articles, interviews, etc. in one place and distilled down to their "just the facts" essence. It's well illustrated and divides logically along with the different singers who've acted as lead singer over the years.
So I'm still looking for the definitive Van Halen/Van Hagar band bio. This isn't it - but it'll fill the empty hours until the real thing comes
Almost all of Van Halen's history is now legend. And almost all of it is already well known to fans - in other words, the very people who would buy this book in the first place. Sorry, folks, but this volume offers you very little that you don't already know.
This is no surprise when you consider that the author Ian Christe has done virtually no exclusive interviews in this book. All the quotes are second hand. Everything uttered by the band or their associates has been copied from old, published sources. So how can this book possibly offer anything new? Where are the fresh, exclusive interviews with the families, friends, fans and foes? Nowhere in these pages.
So what does this leave you with? Certainly nothing naked, raw and revealing to compare with Metallica's "Some Kind of Monster", or even a Motley Crue "The Dirt". Basically all you get is a lengthy Wikipedia entry, with selected quotes taken from old magazine articles. The author gives his own oustider's summary of 30-40 years of the band. That's it. Even the 'exclusive' photos are few and nothing special.
To be fair, Christe's is a moderately entertaining book. His prose is neither aloof nor air-headed. It is actually quite a readable account that runs along at a decent pace without getting repetitive or boring. It is an entertaining read. But you get the feeling that the entertainment is derived solely from the drama of Van Halen's real-life ups & downs, rather than because of any particular skill of the writer.
I have previously read and reviewed Christe's other book "Sound of the Beast". That book was flawed, but it was well researched and it is obvious the author spent a lot of effort and time trying to craft a definitive short history of Metal. This current book suggests only that he is out to make a quick buck. No gems unearthed by painstaking research, no sweat broken to dig for undiscovered nuggets of news. Just rehashing of old news. Disappointing.
In "Sound of the Beast", one of Christe's most evident weaknesses was his inability to maintain objectivity when he is striving to write an objective, neutral history. He wants to sound authoritative, yet dribbles over some of his own favorite bands like a starry-eyed fan-boy, while he flippantly passes over mentioning other very important bands that maybe he isn't so keen on. Fair enough if you're writing a fan article - but not really good enough if your book is subtitled "The Complete History of Heavy Metal". He does the same thing here. He unashamedly sympathizes with Roth, and makes juvenile remarks at the Hagar years. He seems to side openly with Roth vs EVH and vs Hagar. He even adds an immature appendix entitled "Van Hagar for dummies". Says it all, really. I enjoy both Roth-era and Hagar-era stuff equally, and when I'm reading a supposedly 'authoritative' account I'd prefer some neutrality so I can make my own mind up about what I like best. I can respect other's preferences (Dave OR Sammy) if expressed on an appropriate forum (Blabbermouth??). But when I am paying premium dollar for a hardcover book, why must I put up with childish name-calling?
I'm a Van Halen fan. So I enjoyed reading about Van Halen's story for the umpteenth time. But I found nothing new, nothing to raise my eyebrows. The only way any average VH fan would not have already known 90% of what's in this book would be if he/she had lived under a rock for the last 30 years. Yes, if I wasn't a Van Halen fan, I might have found some new things here ... but if I wasn't a fan already, why would I even buy this book? VH fans deserve better.
If I wanted to buy just one book on Van Halen, this would NOT be the one. I would rather buy "Van Halen 101" by Abel Sanchez. Yes, it is even MORE opinionated and biased and fan-boyish than Christe's book ... but Sanchez never implies or boasts that his is anything other than a fan tribute book. No pretensions about being an authoritative history. Just a true fan's book written by an enthusiastic fan for other enthusiastic fans. An honest, simple-minded labor of love. And compared to Christe, Sanchez goes to great lengths to research his material. Witness the painstaking analysis of sales figures data, the insightful discussion of every component of EVH's success (does he play too many notes? what was the impact of Spandex? etc). Most remarkable of all, Sanchez got exclusive comments from dozens of the leading rock musicians today (from James Hetfield to Steve Vai to Brian May) talking just about EVH. Now THAT was impressive.
Instead of merely attempting to tell us Van Halen's life story, Christe attempts to pass off ridiculously overwritten, bombastic babble as having insight into his subject.
However much of a Van Halen fan that you may be, this is one book that you need to take your time in deciding whether or not to buy it.
While I'd heard and read many of the stories through the years, it was the little nuggets I picked up throughout the book that made it fun. I didn't realize that Sammy wrote "Stand Up" on the Rockstar soundtrack. I didn't know Eddie had to put chickenwire around his studio to ground it. Those are fun facts any serious VH fan should know.
As a fan, it's admittedly been hard to watch what's happened to VH over the past 10 years. And you sense at times Christie (who is clearly a fan) wants to provide a more personal commentary on the Van Halen juggernaut. And who can blame him, when talking about Van Halen, it's easy as a fan to let one's emotions surface. But Christie wisely takes the high road, reporting the good with the bad and ultimately showing that no one (excepty maybe Mikey) is perfect in this perfect storm of a band.
Overall, I encourage any and every fan of VH to get this book. And when you're done with it, pass it along. More people need to undertsand the power, passion and pomp that is VH.
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