eddie van halen

#950: A Letter To S

Hey S,

I felt like writing again, I hope you don’t mind.  My emails are not the esteemed A Life in Letters by Isaac Asimov, but it’s more about the process of the writing for me.

I’ve been listening to Van Halen in the car a lot.  Long story short:  I’ve been having issues with my music hard drive in the car, with it repeating tracks.  I discovered I could fix it by formatting the drive and starting over.  Certain Van Halen albums used to give me issues in the car, with the repeating songs.  It’s been a pleasure to rock to King Edward this week.  It’s hard to believe but he died over a year ago now.

I remember coming home from work the day he died and I was just in a foul mood.  Not only was I grieving Edward Van Halen, but I felt stupid for grieving someone I never met and never hoped to meet.  It was a torrent of shitty feelings, plus I hadn’t eaten properly.  It was a Tuesday and I had to do laundry or something, and I snapped at Jen.  I felt like an asshole afterwards.  I also remember telling you this story, and you were the one who said it was OK to be grieving.  Until that moment I didn’t really consider that maybe you don’t have to be a psycho to be upset about Van Halen’s death.

Music aside — which was usually warm, fun with instrumental and occasional lyrical depth — Van Halen meant a lot to me.  I must have been 13 years old when I was sitting on the porch with my best friend Bob, hearing 1984 on the tape deck for the first time.  My dad came home from work, heard the noise and asked what we were listening to, as dads often did.  “Van Halen!?” he said.  “Sounds like some kind of tropical disease!”

My dad was always good with one liners!  When we watched music videos on Much, he would mock the singers shrieking their best operatic screams.  “What’s wrong with that man?  Should he go to the hospital?  He sounds like he’s in pain!”

Good memories, all.  I’m very attached to those childhood memories.  I’m trying to commit them all to writing before they’re gone.  Often, lost memories can be triggered by an old photograph.  But there are many things I wish I had video of!  If only there was a tape or photograph of that first time I heard Van Halen.  But film was a precious commodity until the last 15 years or so.  You didn’t just take pictures of you and your friends listening to music on the front porch.

I remember some of the tapes, and conversations.  Iron Maiden’s Maiden Japan was popular in our porch listening sessions.  George would come over from next door, and Bob would come over with his tapes.  My house was right in the middle!  I wonder how much of my happiest childhood memories are due to geographic concerns.  If my house wasn’t right there in the middle of everybody, maybe I never would have been there that day to hear Van Halen or Iron Maiden.

Sometimes I worry that I spend too much time living in the past and trying to recapture those moments.  But then I think about what you would say to that.  “Why are you worried about something that brings you happiness?” I think you might ask.  And you’d be right.  So bring on the Van Halen.  Bring on the Iron Maiden.  Let’s party like it’s 1985.  Might as well go for a soda — nobody hurts, nobody dies.

Mike

 

A Year to the Day: Rest in Peace, Eddie Van Halen

‘Twas only a year ago I wrote these words:

There will never be another Van Halen.  No player before or since will have the ingenuity and influence he did.  From modifying his own guitars and amps to achieve the perfect “brown sound”, to brutalizing the strings with a drill, he was an innovator.  He was the most important of all the guitar innovators. And he sheepishly grinned through the whole thing as if to say, “Who, me? I did that?”

A year later, it’s only more certain that there will never been another Eddie.  You can read my full memorial here:  Rest in Peace to the greatest guitar player of all time.

The week Eddie passed, we did a tribute to him on the LeBrain Train.  You can watch that tribute below, starting at the 20 minute mark.

As if that wasn’t enough, we followed that with another Van Halen show: VH deep cuts!  One thing for sure, Eddie certainly inspired a lot of conversation on the LeBrain Train over the past year.  You can watch the deep cuts below, starting again at 20 minutes.

Let’s all take a moment to reflect, and play some Van Halen tonight.  Tonight, I’m going to go with “Dirty Movies” from Fair Warning to spotlight the greatest gee-tar picker of all time.  What song or album will you play for Eddie tonight?

VHS Archives #100: The Final Episode of the Pepsi Power Hour

The final episode of the Pepsi Power Hour aired at the end of the summer of 1991.  The man with the sad honour of signing off was veteran Michael Williams.  Off and on, Williams hosted the Power Hour since 1986 if not earlier.  It was filmed at a welding shop in Calgary, Alberta.  Because metal?  (Bad, bad idea!  Audio engineers, your thoughts on this setting?)

Williams played Metallica’s “One”, and “Hunger Strike” by Temple of the Dog.  The shape of things to come.

The episode also features an interview with a new band called The Scream, featuring an up-and-comer named John Corabi.  A couple years later, and Corabi would be the new singer in Motley Crue.

The very last band ever played on the Pepsi Power Hour was Van Halen.  It was a big interview by Kim Clarke Champniss regarding the new album For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge.  The very last song ever played was “Runaround”.

The Power Hour was supplanted by the inferior Power 30.  It was a significant change.  I rarely missed a Power Hour.  The Power 30 was rarely worth catching.  However, look for the ad for a promising new Saturday show called Start Me Up – three hours of rock!

YouTube has forced me to butcher this video to get it up, so there are no music videos.  The Van Halen interview is mutilated. There are some ads and all the talking.  It’s history!

 

Speaking of history:  100 VHS Archives!  And counting!  I started posting these in 2019 and I still have plenty of files left to upload, and a few more tapes to play.  I’ve been taking it easy lately because the software is user-unfriendly and my VCR is making odd noises.  But we’re not done.  Not by a long shot.

Click here to check out all the VHS Archives!

 

#872: “Tattoo”

GETTING MORE TALE #872: “Tattoo”

On January 10, 2012, Van Halen released their first new single with David Lee Roth on vocals since 1996:  “Tattoo”, from the forthcoming album A Different Kind of Truth.  An exciting day to be sure.

I had not yet started this site, but if I had, on that day nine years ago I would have written this story.

In 2012, radio station 107.5 Dave FM (now Dave Rocks) was still running the contest that put me on the map locally speaking:  The Four O’Clock Four-Play.  Afternoon host Craig Fee would play four songs in a row, and listeners had to guess what the common thread between the four songs was.  I won more often than anyone else and became a local celebrity named “LeBrain”, and that’s why you’re reading this today.  But on January 10, Craig stumped me.

The Four-Play that day was, of course, Van Halen’s “Tattoo”, played four times in a row!  Craig, who has since left the radio business, was a massive Van Halen fan.  He was the kind of guy who would see “Love Walks In” on that day’s play list, and remove it in favour of “Hear About It Later”.  He was unafraid and that combined with a diehard love of Roth-era Van Halen must have been all it took to play “Tattoo” four times in a row on the Four-Play.

Truly it was a glorious time to be listening to the radio.  You never knew what Craig was going to play on any given show.  He had a penchant for “Rainbow in the Dark” by Dio, and of course Roth-era Van Halen deeper cuts.  He played half of Fair Warning on his show once.  I don’t know what the real-world consequences were for these musical shenanigans, but Craig’s bravado was inspiring.  After the Four-Play contest was discontinued in April of that year, the show’s format became more of a listener call-in program, and the glory days came to an end.

But what was the “common thread” for the purposes of the contest that day?  “Tattoo” played four times?  Arbitrarily, it was the Elvis tattoo in the lyrics.  “I got Elvis, on my elbow…”  Of course it could have been anything, but Craig just needed an excuse to play the song over and over and over again and still give away that day’s prize.

This post is dedicated to Craig, who I hope is doing well out there in his post-radio life.  I feel very fortunate to have had his show to listen to at work, playing all this stuff that no other radio station would have dared.  We Van Halen fans were in our glory that day, getting our fill of the new tune and enjoying every moment.  Of course, people who hated the song were in agony for that show.  Oh well!  So sad, too bad.

Hard to believe David Lee Roth was back and an album was really coming — and now we had the proof in our ears!  Almost as hard to believe Craig got away with playing “Tattoo” four times in the space of a 30-minute contest.

A story for the rock n’ roll history books; a memory for the ages.

Best of 2020 Part 7: The Stats of Doooom

Big thanks to 2020 for making this our most successful year at mikeladano.com yet.  The final tally is:

284,513 hits from 135,708 unique viewers.  This is a massive uptick from our previous best year, 2018, which received “only” 215,440 views.  Thank you pandemic, because that’s what this totally is.  I had no new ideas for 2020; I had given up on “growth”, only for 2020 to come to the rescue with a goddamn pandemic!

One way you can tell this uptick had nothing to do with me:  All the top hits are old, old posts with deep roots on Google searches.

  1. VAN HALEN – Zero – 2331 hits
  2. AMERICAN DAD – Persona Assistant – 2133 hits
  3. #551:  You’re Wrong on Unmasked – 1318 hits
  4. RAINBOW – Rising – 1076 hits
  5. KISS – Alive II (Re-review) – 891 hits
  6. KISS – Kissworld / Re-review directory – 831 hits
  7. TRAILER PARK BOYS – Season 11 – 761 hits
  8. KISS – Unmasked (Re-review) – 727 hits
  9. #425:  The Soup Nazi – 719 hits
  10. #774:  The Original Mustard Tiger – 718 hits

The death of Eddie Van Halen caused October to be our best month ever, and helped push Van Halen to #1 this year as well as contributing to the record hits overall.  The Van Halen Zero review is now the most popular thing I’ve ever written, having been read 12,294 times.

By comparison, the best-read “new” post this year was:

  1. AC/DC – “Shot in the Dark” – 574 views

I guess the message here is:  recycle, recycle, recycle!


Hits by country in 2020:  Top Five usual suspects – the same countries as last year, just in a barely different order!


I already posted the stats for Youtube views on live streams, and I’ve also already done my look ahead at 2021.

What do these stats show us?  The power of both Eddie Van Halen and a worldwide pandemic.  I’m pleased that people chose to read my stuff at those times, but I’d give just about anything to get Eddie and our normal world back.  Since I can’t, I can only tell you this:  I don’t plan on stopping in 2021!  And that’s about all I can say.  2020 taught us that life doesn’t give a shit about your plans.  I had plans in 2021 and they didn’t involve sitting in this little space live streaming.  This time there is no plan except give ‘er.  The universe tends to unfold as it does.

I wish you nothing but peace, happiness and harmony in 2021.  Let’s give ‘er together.

 

Take Your Whiskey to the Dirty Movies, it’s the Van Halen Deep Cuts Show!

A hearty thank you to Kevin / Buried on Mars, Aaron / Keeps Me Alive, and Eric / Uncle Meat for appearing on this episode of the LeBrain Train!  (Conceiving, in Kevin’s case.)  And a salute to Derek Kortepeter for submitting a cool list as well.  The subject was Van Halen deep cuts and we brought ’em to ya.  Any that we forgot came up in viewer comments.  And a great show was had by all!

At the start, Kevin and I killed some time looking at some new arrivals, and talking about the forthcoming new punk EP by Max  the Axe.  (I have a copy and it is killer.)  If you want to skip that and go straight to the lists, then start at 0:20:25.

Everybody Wants Live Streams!! Van Halen Deep Cuts Friday, Halloween Memories Saturday!

For the first time since the very first time in March, I’m doing two shows in one weekend!


The LeBrain Train:  2000 Words or More with Mike Ladano

Episode 34

As suggested by the inimitable Kevin / Buried on Mars, Friday’s show will be the Nigel Tufnel Top 10 Van Halen deep cuts.  Join the panel and I as we run through the best stuff they don’t play on the radio.  Friday October 30 at 7:00 PM E.S.T. 


Episode 35

Halloween Memories!  One thing I’ve noticed this year is that many friends are really bummed about the loss of Halloween. I feel bad about this so I thought I’d throw a Halloween live stream party.  I used to be a real Halloween kid, so I thought it would be a lot of fun to just talk Halloween memories!  I have many good ones going back to the 1970s, and best of all, I will be in costume!  Saturday October 31 at 7:00 PM E.S.T.  

Facebook:  MikeLeBrain  YouTube:  Mike LeBrain

#864: The Inside of Van Halen

Thankfully, I didn’t give away all my magazines.  Some special ones remain.  Most of those are Kiss-related, but a few are not.  I was smart enough to hang on to a few that are special, at least to me.  Today we’re looking at the only issue I own of The Inside, an excellent Van Halen fan club magazine.  This comes from Fall ’96, a brief period where the Van Halen lineup was presumed to be a reunited band with David Lee Roth.  That’s only one of the things that makes this issue interesting.


GETTING MORE TALE #864:  The Inside

The location that I first managed had been open only about six months.  1996 was an eventful year both for music and for me.  Notably, Sammy Hagar left Van Halen, and in a whirlwind of events they were recording new music with David Lee Roth.  People wanted to talk about it at the front counter and find out what I knew.  I knew no more than anybody else, but one of my early customers had the scoop.  He had access to The Inside, an unofficial Van Hagar magazine that would have been the best place to find information on them in the pre-internet-in-everybody’s-living-room age.

I can’t precisely remember how he got this issue.  Passed down from a brother-in-law, I believe.  Issue #6.  The front cover broke the news:  David Lee Roth was back?!  With a question mark, of course.  It already had some water damage when I received it third-hand.  We had been discussing all the latest Van Halen happenings in-store, and this particular guy already read the most in-depth coverage you could find.  He told me he’d pass the magazine down onto me, and true to his word, he did.  The news was so fresh that the letters column only contained correspondence from readers pre-split.

“These are strange times indeed,” reads in the first line on the first page, “Letter from the Editor”.  On page 10 is a detailed timeline of the breakup/reunion, monitoring early internet mailing list chatter and official statements.  It’s fascinating and many of the details turned out to be true, including the title of a new song, “Me Wise Magic“.  On the 14th page is an update on Eddie’s upcoming hip surgery, and the news that the Toronto pay-per-view concert was not scheduled for home video release.  Page 15 reveals that Dimebag Darrell recorded covers of “Everybody Wants Some!!” and “Outta Love Again” for B-side use, and that Pat Boone was covering “Jump” and possibly also “Panama” for the album that became In A Metal Mood.  (Only “Panama” made the final cut.)

Most of the issue is dominated by David Lee Roth, both coverage and speculation, but with big photos splashed over the pages.  There’s an interesting interview about the Balance tour with the lighting tech, but due to circumstances beyond their control, this was old news by comparison.

For music geeks that crave the obscure, there is a two page article on Brian May’s Star Fleet Project featuring Eddie Van Halen.  This article details the two day session that brought the three track mini-album to life.  How it came together, details and trivia.  There’s even an ad for a rare CD release of the album, complete with bonus tracks, as part of Brian May’s & Cozy Powell’s Resurrection release.

The back page has information on an album called Fatherless Child by Rich Wyman, featuring a guest appearance by none other than King Edward himself.  (If you have been watching The LeBrain Train: 2000 Words or More with Mike Ladano, on our Van Halen tribute episode, a viewer from Norway mentioned this release.  I claimed to have never heard of it, but apparently I had just forgotten!)  Eddie caught Wyman live and was impressed enough to produce four songs on Fatherless Child (Wyman’s second CD).  Better than that, he even played guitar on three.  This article details the songs and playing, and concludes with an interview with Wyman.

Generous customers like this, who treated people like me at the Record Store like an actual “Humans Being”, helped “Balance” out all the real assholes we got in that first year.  Shirtless dudes, shoeless dudes, (no pantsless dudes thankfully), construction workers tracking in dirt, thieves, troublemakers…and the odd real gem like this now-forgotten Van Halen fan.  All we did was talk a little Van Halen.  He had this magazine that he finished reading, and wanted to pass it on to a fellow fan.  He returned with the book in hand, and it’s been in my collection ever since.


In a way, it’s kind of wrong that I still have this issue.  The original owner passed it on to someone else, who passed it on to me.  In the spirit of the way I acquired it, I really should have passed it on again when I gave away the bulk of my collection.  But I do still have it, in the same condition as I received it.  The inner page is loose as they often come to be, but it’s perfectly readable and enjoyable.

Instead of giving it away, I’ll live up to the spirit of the gift with this story and the pictures above.  Thanks, mystery Van Halen fan.  If you’re out there anywhere, let’s raise a toast to King Edward.

Eddie Van Halen Tribute – LeBrain Train Live Stream with Guests Galore

The Cradle Did Rock!  We had a great time talking Eddie Van Halen, memories and music.  If you miss Eddie as much as we do, then watch this live stream.  We digest the loss of the Edward the Great, share stories and learn new things.  Thanks to Aaron/ Mr. Books, Kevin / Buried on Mars, John / 2 loud 2 old music, Eric / Uncle Meat, and Tyler / Dravonous for joining the panel tonight.

I started the stream with some pre-show unboxings, which you can check out if you watch the whole stream from the very start.  If you only want to see the Van Halen discussion, then start at 0:20:00.

Thanks again everyone for watching and participating!

A Tribute to Eddie Van Halen on the Friday LeBrain Train

The LeBrain Train – 2000 Words or More with Mike Ladano
Episode 31

Shitty week, huh?  That’s why I’m here — to help you deal with the bad stuff, and leave feeling better at the end.  This week we are here to grieve, to mourn, and also to pay tribute to the greatest guitar player who ever lived:  Edward Van Halen.

We’re forgoing the list format, and just talking about what Eddie and his music meant to us personally.  Expect the usual suspects on the panel, and please post your comments so we can see what you have to say about King Edward.  Together we’ll process this horrible loss, and by the end we’ll feel a little better.  Van Halen meant a lot to me.  They were one of the first bands I ever liked.  We’ll talk about that and lots more.

For best results, view on YouTube.  Facebook is notoriously stoppy-starty.  For those who tune in early (before the official 7:00 PM start), there will be three unboxings to enjoy.

7:00 PM E.S.T.  Facebook:  MikeLeBrain  YouTube:  Mike LeBrain