35 Years Ago: Revisiting Van Halen's Ill-Fated '1984' Tour

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January 23, 2019 at 9:27 am Quote #60102



January 22, 2019

On paper and in the bank, Van Halen had everything going for them as their
1984 Tour commenced.

The band’s sixth album, also titled 1984, had just been released, and lead
track “Jump” was five weeks away from becoming their first No. 1 single.
New deals cut by manager Noel Monk meant Van Halen were finally making
real money from their world-class success, and they’re recently set a
show-fee record after being paid $1.5 million for their appearance at the
U.S. Festival.

The group had everything to play for — only some of the members didn’t
see it that way. Things hadn’t been good behind the scenes for some time.
It’s possible they’d never been good, as a result of what frontman David
Lee Roth once referred to as the members’ “immigrant energy,” which he
believed was a result of family histories that left them as “desperate
people seeking desperate fortune — with a smile.”

The catalyst that forced the rollercoaster off the rails may have been
their 1983 cover of “Dancing in the Street,” which, despite its success,
represented a battle of wills between Roth and Eddie Van Halen. The
guitarist wanted his synth riff to become a Peter Gabriel kind of song,
but was coerced into allowing it to be used as the cover version. After
losing that fight, Eddie determined to never lose another, and moved the
band towards pop-rock and away from hard rock, as demonstrated with the
groundbreaking “Jump” — a track Van Halen said no one originally wanted
to record.

Sensing his loss of control, Roth began talking up his plans to pursue a
solo career, suggesting that if Van Halen’s music no longer suited him, he
didn’t need to front it. “I’ve always been a showoff,” he said during the
tour. “But I’ve also always had something to say. I will express myself
through other avenues. Just so long as I’m famous; so long as the
spotlight’s on Dave.”

From behind the drumkit, the perspective seems to have been a little
clearer for Alex Van Halen — although that didn’t mean he could do
anything about it. “We were in the middle of this thing and it was getting
bigger and bigger,” he said later. “Individually, we were so far apart
that it was like night and day. We were never together, although it looked
like we were from the public’s standpoint. That’s why in 1984, it was very
natural for it to fall apart. We saw it coming, even though when it
actually materialized it was a surprise.”

Of course, it didn’t happen overnight. The band set about planning the
101-date North American road trip with all the rock ‘n’ roll attitude they
could muster. “Our live show for the 1984 tour just could not get any
bigger,” Eddie recalled, “but it was so over the top that we never made
any money from it. We had 18 trucks hauling the stage and equipment. That
was unheard of. The standard lighting rig had 500 to 700 lights, and we
had over 2,000. We could never have topped that. … Great memories.”

Bassist Michael Anthony recalled the fun and energy of the first tour stop
on Jan. 18 at the Coliseum in Jacksonville, Fla. “[W]e were doing ‘Running
With the Devil’ and I went into a squat during the number while Dave
flipped over my back. … I realized my pants ripped from front to back,
and there I was, left playing the rest of the number hunched over. When it
was over, Dave went into his rap, which gave me a chance to run into the
quick-change booth onstage to change.”

The good feeling wasn’t to last. Perhaps the success of “Jump” had an
increasingly negative impact on Roth; and perhaps his comments about going
solo did the same to Van Halen. “We accused each other of betrayal and
thievery and lies and treachery,” the frontman said later. “And it was all
true. We were all guilty.”

Monk pointed out the single event he believes shook Van Halen’s
foundations apart, while also demonstrating the naivety of its leading
members. In his 2017 book Runnin’ With the Devil: A Backstage Pass Into
the Wild Times, Loud Rock and the Down and Dirty Truth Behind the Making
of Van Halen, he detailed how Anthony was trapped in no man’s land after
the battle lines had been drawn.

Roth had personal power as lead singer, and the Van Halen brothers had
each other, so the bassist stood alone — and Monk says that’s why, midway
through the tour, he was forced to renounce his equal partnership in the
band, and accept a backdated loss of songwriting royalties. “In all my
years in the business, it was the most disgusting thing I ever saw,” Monk
said. “They didn’t just cut him out; they did it in the middle of one of
their biggest records. He was the nicest guy in the world and they didn’t
even let him get the benefit of that album. He lost millions. MILLIONS. My
stomach turned flips.”

Incredibly, Anthony remained on the road, and indeed remained in the band
until he was dismissed in favor of Eddie’s then-teenage son Wolfgang in
2006. Yet, there’s no doubt that backstage relations soured — and Monk’s
own tenure was to end following the road trip’s completion with five
appearances across Europe on the Monsters of Rock touring festival. By
then, the situation onstage wasn’t as much fun anymore either. “[T]he
tension level started to rise,” Anthony recalled. “[Roth would] do
something to piss off a male fan, and then he’d say, ‘Hey buddy, after the
show I’m going to fuck your girl,’ and point right at them. And boy,
sometimes some guys would get heated up for that. … Some nights you
want to just laugh, and other nights you want to go, ‘Oh, I don’t want to
stand near this.’”

The Van Halen story, of course, wound on and on. Roth was replaced by
Sammy Hagar, who was replaced by Roth, who was replaced by Gary Cherone,
who was replaced by Hagar, who was replaced by Roth. Monk hasn’t spoken to
his former colleagues since they terminated his 30-day rolling contract in
what he called a “greedy” bid to “get 20 percent more” — but with the
distance of time he can look back fondly.

“If you take away Eddie, Dave is not Van Halen. If you take away Dave,
Eddie is not Van Halen,” Monk said. “We drove on buses for thousands of
miles; you can’t do that and not get along. I loved Eddie. He was my
closest relationship in the band. He was incredibly naive, but he was

January 24, 2019 at 6:51 am Quote #60122


Isn’t that a Diver Down tour pic on top?

Stay Frosty


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