Van Halen – Hooker Lake Inn 1978

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This topic has 13 voices, contains 26 replies, and was last updated by  Halenberg 119 days ago.

March 17, 2014 at 7:41 pm Quote #33990

mrmojohalen
(5454)

Wonder if Dave made any reference to “Hooker” Lake ? :mrgreen:


When you turn on your stereo, does it return the favor?


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March 18, 2014 at 11:38 am Quote #34006

ron
(8969)

ffoner: I’d love to see the original FB post if you’ve got a link please. Tell Randy I said thanks. :wink:

Chicago Bar Bands 1975 through1982
https://www.facebook.com/groups/202328770507/


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March 18, 2014 at 12:30 pm Quote #34007

ffoner
(1047)

Thanks Ron!!


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March 18, 2014 at 6:48 pm Quote #34018

ekru
(278)

Thank you, Ron! Purely AWESOME post. In every way.


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August 10, 2014 at 8:50 pm Quote #37855

Halenberg
(369)

Cool the VHND gave you guys props and put this story up today. This is the stuff I like finding out about VH. I wonder if there are any pics out there from this show.

http://www.vhnd.com/2014/08/10/van-halen-plays-a-converted-barn-on-this-day-in-78/


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August 11, 2014 at 1:15 am Quote #37872

VHND
(13)

Halenberg: Cool the VHND gave you guys props and put this story up today. This is the stuff I like finding out about VH. I wonder if there are any pics out there from this show.

http://www.vhnd.com/2014/08/10/van-halen-plays-a-converted-barn-on-this-day-in-78/

Yes, thanks to Ron for putting these recollections together. I don’t think I would have even heard about this gig at this barn if it weren’t for this thread.

But I don’t think we’ll be finding any photos anytime soon. Ron’s friend found this red ticket, and I did actually find a very cool flyer for this gig, but believe it or not, I’m unable to find the scan of the flyer now! It is somewhere in my computer, but evidently I didn’t label the JPG in any way that I can pull it up now. Over the coming months I hope to have time to organize and categorize all my VH photos, and I will find that flyer some day & add it to the article.

Anyway, it sure seems like this was one of the most unique gigs they ever played!


Jeff – VHND.com


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August 11, 2014 at 2:36 pm Quote #37889

ron
(8969)

http://markahollingsworth.blogspot.com/2012/04/van-halen-verities.html

Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Van Halen Verities

With Van Halen returning to Nashville for the first time in over a decade this Friday, I got to thinking about some true tales of interaction with them in my past. The first time I encountered them was March 3, 1978 deep in the bowels of the infamous Aragon Ballroom when this unknown quartet was the opener of a three act bill that also featured Ronnie Montrose’s fusion rock quintet, and the newly revamped Journey with pretty boy lead singer Steve Perry.

Van Halen’s eponymous first album had just been released a few weeks before, and their cover of The Kink’s “You Really Got Me” was garnering strong airplay due to Eddie Van Halen’s scorching six string pyrotechnics and David Lee Roth’s reimagining of Black Oak Arkansas’ Jim “Dandy” Mangrum. The boys from Pasadena only had a twenty-five minute slot, but they cranked it. My visit with them was quite short after the show as they were leaving the hall just about the time that Journey was exiting from their final encore.

However, five months later Van Halen was on a long trek opening for Black Sabbath, and on one of their off days from Ozzy and company, they were booked into a small dive near Paddock Lake in southern Wisconsin that became the source of mythic legend: did they actually play a concert at a converted dairy barn while they were the number one band in America? The answer is yes. It was, quite literally, a three-story cattle stable that had been converted into a biker bar. The stage was a former second level hayloft with a huge weight-bearing timber column running vertically right down the center and bordered with rough-hewn pine slat railing to keep performers from falling fifteen feet to the main floor below. I had been at other gigs there in it’s first year of operation including shows by Eddie Money, Starcastle, and The Dictators (featuring Handsome Dick Manitoba), and I swear you could still smell remnants of manure and bovine piss when the place got heated up with wall-to-wall humanity.

By this time, Van Halen’s star had risen to the point where they were responsible for selling nearly half the tickets at the Sabbath gigs, and their debut record had already gone multi-platinum. It seemed odd that they were playing this gig in such an obscure rural outpost, but the word had gotten out, and there were already cars from four states represented in the parking field by 5:00 PM for this rare headlining set.

Due to my relationship with Warner Brothers as a Program Director at a local rock station, and my writing gig for area magazines, I was able to hang with the guys during their sound check and meal. Even as an opener for bigger bands, they were used to more space to work with than this cramped excuse for a stage. Despite the close quarters, Eddie still insisted on having his replica of the Little Boy Atomic Bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima next to his Marshall stacks. There was barely room for anyone to move more than five feet, and this was going to be especially challenging for front man Roth’s histrionics. You could see them looking at each other in bemused wonder as their crushing sound caused sawdust to filter down through the early evening sunbeams cutting through the planked walls.

After getting their levels, it was difficult getting a read on Diamond Dave as we chatted in an area that was once a horse stall. I could never tell if he was stoned, or just incredibly laid back in that Valley Boy kinda way. His eyes were bloodshot and bleary, and he did guffaw with that stoner stammer, but then he could also sound quite erudite and clever at times in a tone that belied an altered state. He was one of those guys that never, ever gave a straight answer to any question. Eddie, on the other hand, was shy but genuine in his interactions. Alex Van Halen was distracted and seemed a bit peeved about the cramped condition of his drums (I think they had to reduce his kit in order to accommodate everything that was necessary on the “stage”). Michael Anthony was quite outgoing, and the most forthcoming and relaxed of the lot.

Despite the less than ideal circumstances, the band gave a rousing performance to the thousand or so that were packed into quarters designed for perhaps half that. They played nearly every song from the debut album, plus at least four that would be featured on their soon-to-be-released Vol. II album. And then there were Eddie’s extended “Eruption” solo and spotlight moments for drums and bass, too. There was no doubting that this band had the goods, even under these less than ideal circumstances. And since I believe I was the only sober, non-buzzed observer or participant in attendance within that bizarre silo, I can attest that the concert did, indeed, take place.

Fast-forward several years for the second story that has remained a mystery until this moment. Van Halen had now earned two multi-platinum albums, and every radio programmer and promoter in the planet considered them amongst the rock elite. Anticipation for their third album, Women and Children First, was building with each passing month. By this time, I had left the radio industry, and was now Marketing Director for Dog Ear Records, a chain of eight stores in the northern suburbs of Chicago. I was still writing for several rock rags on the side. Part of my duties included making the rounds to the local distributorships of the major labels to pick up the latest merchandising materials for new releases, promo albums for in-store play, and commiserate with sales people on how to best position product in our stores. At the WEA (Warner/Electra/Atlantic) warehouse in Elk Grove Village, I had good relationships with various crew throughout the building, and sometimes they would give me stuff before other folks in town. As one of the guys was handing me some promotional copies of new discs by Blondie, Rod Stewart, Linda Ronstadt, and The Eagles, I off-handedly asked if he might have a copy of the new “Big Boys’” disc (as they referred to Van Halen).

I was stunned when he said, “Well, if you keep it under your hat, sure…I’ll give you one so you can write up a good review for some of your publications for next month so the news will be fresh when the album hits the streets in these next few weeks.” There was near top-secret security around this sort of thing, especially in a market as competitive as Chicago.

I matter-of-factly said, “Of course,” as he opened a thin box with just a few of the twelve-inch discs in it, and handed me one. With my heart pumping, I exited the building as quickly as I could before anyone realized what had just happened.

Earlier that morning I had heard DJ Sky Daniels on “The Loop” (WLUP, the number one rock station in the market) talking-up how they were going to have the exclusive premier of Women and Children First in four days. They were in fierce ratings wars with WMET and WKQX for the baby boomer rock demographic that dominated that era. I realized that I not only had a rarity on my hands from a journalistic perspective, but I also had potential gold in my hands from the broadcast realm to boot.

So, I took a detour back to my house and made a cassette and reel-to-reel copy of the album, and then went to my office at the back of our Northbrook store and called my boss. Even though we were one of the leading chains in the northern suburbs of Chicago, we were probably fourth in the entire market in sales, and had to scratch for much of what we could earn, and didn’t have nearly the marketing dollars that the larger chains had. We were the first to mass market used record sales, rent videos, and incorporate video gaming into our offerings. And our customer loyalty was good due to our intense desire to fulfill even the most obscure special orders. But still, media partners did not usually pick us first for many special promotions. I suggested to Rick, the president of our little enterprise, that we could probably parlay this Van Halen disc into some substantial on-air trade-out with one of the other two stations in order for them to get the jump on “The Loop” by airing it first. He agreed, but warned that we needed to be very careful so that the WEA folks could trace none of this back to me.

Then I called my friends at WMET first, figuring that they might be willing to play ball more readily since a major media conglomerate didn’t own them as WKQX was by NBC. I was quickly put through to the GM who was anxious to do anything to put a chink in “The Loop’s” armor. I was somewhat audacious in my proposal for substantial and specific trade-out in advertising and promotional tie-ins for the next year, but they were so desperate for this opportunity that they agreed. They wanted to hear a bit of it first, so I put it on our store turntable and played some through the phone so they felt assured that it was indeed Eddie, D-Roth, and the guys. Within 40 minutes a bonded deliveryman arrived to take the non-descript sealed brown bag with the stereo reel-to-reel dub and the photocopy of the album art to WMET downtown. They excitedly called me back when they received it, and they were nearly bouncing off the walls with excitement. Within an hour they announced to their listeners that they would be airing the new Van Halen in its entirety the next day.

“The Loop” was furious, because they didn’t actually have their copy yet, and they angrily confronted their representative at WEA. Within minutes major chaos reigned at their warehouse as they tried to figure out how a copy had gotten into WMET’s hands. It wasn’t that it was just going to be previewed ahead of their competitor across town…it was going to be ahead of every other station in the world…and they were pissed.

The lower level promotion guy who had given me the advance disc called and asked if I still had the album, and I told him I did. He never asked if I had made a dub and forwarded that along, and, of course, I never volunteered that info. No one ever figured it out as far as I am aware. WMET’s lips were sealed, and they were incredibly grateful for the scoop they got on their biggest competitor. As a result, Dog Ear Records shared in some great promotional partnerships with them over the next twelve months and beyond.

That was 32 years ago, and I am finally coming clean. Those wondering if the mighty Van Halen ever really played in an animal shed in the rolling Kettle Moraine hills of Wisconsin, or were curious about how the scandal surrounding the Chitown radio debut for Women and Children First came to pass, well those rock ‘n’ roll mysteries can now be moved into the verities column.

Posted by Mark A. Hollingsworth at 3:28 PM


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August 11, 2014 at 7:15 pm Quote #37902

mrmojohalen
(5454)

Great story. Thanks Ron !


When you turn on your stereo, does it return the favor?


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August 11, 2014 at 11:57 pm Quote #37924

Gilligan
(1441)

Interesting how many different “accounts” there are of the same show. Two nights or one? 20 people or 1000? They were famous or unknown? Dave was stoned and mellow or drunk and belligerent?

Good stuff!


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August 12, 2014 at 1:37 am Quote #37932

dokkendude
(3018)

That was a great read, thanks Ron!!



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April 25, 2016 at 8:25 am Quote #53208

ron
(8969)

http://www.vhnd.com/2014/08/10/van-halen-plays-a-converted-barn-on-this-day-in-78/#comment-2610846003
Lori JG • Thursday, April 7, 2016 5:11 AM

Holy cow! I’ve told this story my whole life and everyone thinks I’m lying.I googled Hooker Lake Inn tonight looking for a pic of the place. and found these articles!! I was actually thinking, after all these years, I must have hallucinated it all! HOT IS RIGHT, I was with a bunch of 16,17,18 19 year old kids from Northern Illinois, that drank and partied every weekend “over the line”. Hooker Lake Inn – The Rocket- Lake Geneva… The place was packed to the gills! Sweat, smoke, beer., We clawed our way up to the second floor where the stage was – the music was awesome! I swear, I remember Dave was wearing a leopard print, full body leotard, his hair down and wild, and he was swinging on this rope 2-3 stories up, going from railing to railing. Being a bunch of young girls, we got up close pretty easy… and I fell in love with Eddie. Never heard anyone play the guitar like him. Nicest smile. seemed shy. I freaked OUT when their album came out a little later… and they were instant hits! No one ever believed me.. and the girls I was with that night didn’t give 2 hoots about music, they were cruising for guys.. they were unimpressed that night and would never back my story up! they just said I was wasted.

http://www.vhnd.com/2014/08/10/van-halen-plays-a-converted-barn-on-this-day-in-78/#comment-2610850426
Lori JG • Thursday, April 7, 2016 5:16 AM

Soooo cool. Dave was definitely over the top entertaining, I crushed instantly on Eddie. No body has ever believed this story. They just told me I was wasted. I can’t believe the girls I was with that night were so unaffected by the music as not to recall later it was them we saw that night! How can you forget Dave? LOL

http://www.vhnd.com/2014/08/10/van-halen-plays-a-converted-barn-on-this-day-in-78/#comment-2610884416
Lori JG TruthMan • Thursday, April 7, 2016 5:57 AM

No pictures. In fact I was googling for old pics of Hooker Lake Inn when I found these articles, ( I think it burned down years ago.) Only cameras back then were those horrible Polaroids. And we definitely did not chronicle our underage drinking and pot smoking with photos. LOL none of us knew what we were walking into that night. It was just another party weekend in “Kenosha”. with a kick ass band! There was a stock car race track there and this big OLD beat “barn”. to party in. You walked in the front doors and there were long flat grills you made your own burgers at along the front walls L shaped. ( health code nightmare today) I wanna say 2 single stall bathrooms down there, and the main bar which was a big wood homemade counter. and To your left was a wide wood staircase up. 2 levels of “balcony” no tables set up, just about 10 foot wide all the way around the building, where you could look over the sides and see everywhere in the place. The stage was on the 2nd floor against the front wall. And the “Bars” were set back into the walls, Maybe closets with wood drop down counters across the front. tapping warm beers if I remember . Dave was wearing a full body leopard print leotard, and swinging on a rope 2-3 stories up. It was a party night at the time – even crazier when we realized later what we really saw that night! For the boys from Pasadena, this was wayyyy out there! I think they were visiting Michael Anthony’s parents and hanging out a bit with them before jetting off to meet up with the Ozzie tour. I think that had something to do with it. “Going Over The Border” to party was “The Thing” at the time. There were bars sponsored by Chicago Rock stations, all kinds of venues with sports and boating/water skiing, etc . Wisconsin was the only state left with a 18 year old drinking age at the time. It was wild party times * * Side note. My High School graduating class 1980, had the highest # of DUI related deaths in the country. The next year, Wisconsin refused to raise the drinking age, so Illinois police set up road blocks between Illinois and Wi every weekend and holiday to keep underage residents from going to drink in Wisconsin.**


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August 20, 2017 at 1:52 pm Quote #57036

Halenberg
(369)

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