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How the VH albums affected your life?


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Van Halen's music was deeply intertwined in my life from 1978 to about 1986.

Different albums seemed to come out during a different phases of my life and had a direct influence on me.  I thought I would post a timeline of the album releases and you can copy and paste to add any life experiences related to that album.  I don't have time to talk about all at once so I will put this here as a template and add posts over time.  If you want to join in, please do.  Pick a song that seemed to represent your live at that time or the song that made the most impact.  Maybe not your favorite on the album but the song you tried to pick out or the first one you heard.  What ever fits.

 

Title    Album details  

Any live or Bootleg    Release: varies

Van Halen    Released: February 10, 1978     

Van Halen II    Released: March 23, 1979     

Women and Children First    Released: March 26, 1980     

Fair Warning    Released: April 29, 1981     

Diver Down    Released: April 14, 1982     

1984    Released: January 9, 1984     

5150    Released: March 24, 1986     

OU812    Released: May 24, 1988   

For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge    Released: June 17, 1991     

Balance    Released: January 24, 1995     

Van Halen III    Released: March 17, 1998

A Different Kind of Truth    Released: February 7, 2012  

 

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Van Halen    Released: February 10, 1978     This album came out when I was seriously into skateboarding.  We skated all the time.  I still remember hearing "Running with the Devil" the first time.  It became our skate anthem. Just hearing the horns and that bass line got us rocking and skating,  trying new tricks and getting as Rad as we knew how at the time.  I had large speakers in the back of my car and would open the doors and when we skated ramps or ditches and sometimes even the skatepark, Van Halen would be our soundtrack.  

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I could go on for days about the first four albums, but when they hit it huge with 1984, I skipped over the "hits" and became mesmerized by "Girl Gone Bad".

Some rock songs exude a badass Southern California sound, and that cut has it in spades. That tune was just perfect for drinking a cheap beer (underaged) and watching the sun set in a purple tinged sky from a rural hillside on a lazy summer evening.

I really think the guys hit their peak with that track and I knew then that they'd accomplished the musical equivalent of winning both the batting average and HR titles in the same season. The hits were there on 1984, but so was the musicianship.  What a great time to be an aimless teenager and guitar nut.

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I was playing regularly in top 40 bands when Van Halen was coming up and peaking. Trying to cover Eddie’s tasty chop’s and tapping made me a better guitar player. And buy a flanger! 

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A friend in class, when I was 12, brought the first VH album, and Women and Children First, to school. And we all know that Jimi Hendrix and Eddie were the best players in the world. So we hard rockers were listening and talking about how great and unplayable (for ordinary humans) Eruption was. But I never really got in to VH more than that. I was an AC/DC and and Iron Maiden head then. But I remember when Diver Down came out. That was a big thing in school.

At 13-14 I had my first summer job at the back office of Lintas ad agency. One cool guy at there in his early thirties gave me a 90 minute mix tape with Van Halen tracks that he had put together. That was when I got in to them for real. He also lent me a three hour long VHS tape with porn. What a great guy! He made my summer that year for sure.

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The Summer before my Sophomore year, I had saved up enough money to buy my first stereo, albeit an 8 track deck with amplification and EQ built in. Along with that purchase, I also picked up VH1 & VH2. That was the only music I had for the whole Summer so I listened to them endlessly. I still can't listen to Little Dreamer without anticipating the track change in the middle of the song. I wasn't a musician until almost 20 years later so Eddie didn't really have much of an influence on me musically but those first 5 albums were definitely the soundtrack of my high school years when we were cruising & partying every Friday & Saturday night. 

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I accept your challenge!  This was like having a fun homework assignment.  Sorry it's long, but there were stories to tell.

 

Van Halen    Released: February 10, 1978    I've told my story about this album many times over the years, and I think I may have posted it here too but here it is again: Although this album was released in Feb, I was not all that familiar with it.  I was only 13 and had not yet developed any specific "likes" and was not buying albums yet, and I didn't start playing guitar halfway seriously until about 1987.   A friend of mine got it for Christmas that year and we gave it a listen that day.  Not only was I unimpressed, I had a negative reaction to it.  I remember we talked about what kind of instrument Eruption was played on and decided it was a keyboard.  I also remember thinking the doowop-y acapella part in the I'm the One was cool, but that was about it.  The wild stylistic differences from song to song threw me and I thought this was a band who didn't know what the hell they wanted to be.  I remembered You Really Got Me because my older brother earlier that summer had turned it up when it played on the radio and asked me if I knew anything about this band which of course I didn't.  I didn't even know it was a cover song.

Van Halen II    Released: March 23, 1979     Here we are just a few short months later and Dance the Night Away is a single on the radio and I thought it was great!  I had no idea that this was that band I hated at Christmas and VHII ends up being the first non-KTEL or greatest hits album I ever bought.  I loved the You're No Good intro and Light Up the Sky was my early favorite song.  How my tastes developed to that in just a few months, I'll never know.  It's like VHI planted a seed that grew behind the scenes.  I went back and got VHI and kept up with their new releases from that point on.

Women and Children First    Released: March 26, 1980     Released one month before I turned 16, so needless to say this was the soundtrack to a very important summer.  Everybody knew about VH by this time and we all bought this one.  In the fall as we headed into our junior year of high school, I had a friend who insisted that DLR was saying "have you seen THE juniors' grades" in And the Cradle Will Rock in homage to us.  lol  I never got into learning all of Eddie's techniques like tapping and haven't had guitars with whammy bars on them, but I DID get into his songwriting.  In a Simple Rhyme is one of my favorite VH songs.  When I heard Eddie had died I picked up the closest guitar and that's the first thing that came out.

Fair Warning    Released: April 29, 1981     My favorite VH album, and the first VH tour I saw.  I haven't mentioned yet, but I HATED DLR but I wanted to see the band so bad I sucked it up.  I came out of that show a huge DLR fan.  He was a comedian, MC, showman, dancer, and "singer" all wrapped into one.  His onstage banter and energy, along with the rest of the band, blew me away.  A girl in my class borrowed her dad's car to get us there and there were 6 of us stuffed in that thing (I think it was a LeBaron).  We stopped for a burger on the way about 30 miles into an 80-mile trip.  Leaving the parking lot, she stopped with the front end of the car too far out in the road and a tractor trailer swiped the bumper and took it OFF!  The front end was all twisted and bent but the radiator was not damaged and the headlights were intact.  She was understandably distraught but we convinced her to go on to the show.  I don't think it took much - she wanted to go as bad as the rest of us.  I've seen every tour since except A Different Kind of Truth which I had tickets for but my show got cancelled.  BTW, the same guy who insisted the line in Cradle... was "have you seen THE juniors' grades?" also thought that in the spoken part in Unchained the line "that suit is you" was "that city's huge", as in "that city's huge!  You'll get some leg tonight for sure!  Tell us how you do."

Diver Down    Released: April 14, 1982     The album VH fans love to hate.  It's too short?  Check the running times on the first 4 albums.  Too many covers?  When VH covers your song, you might as well give it to them because in a lot of cases it's a better version than the original.  The only cover on this one I didn't care for was Pretty Woman, and I don't even count Happy Trails - I just consider that a joke.  Not enough originals?  Yes, only four and three instrumental/intro pieces.  I'm OK with that.  All four of the originals are top VH tunes of mine, especially Secrets.  This is another one released at a pivotal time for me as I was graduating high school in June.  This album played CONSTANTLY that summer.  Some friends and I took a beach trip after graduation and Dancing in the Street was so popular that several times someone would joke "turn on the radio.  I want to hear Dancing in the Street" and we'd turn on the radio and it was actually playing.  To this day, the first "windows down" warm day every spring I put this album on and drive around listening to it.

1984    Released: January 9, 1984     Great album, of course, and huge for them with the hits Jump, Panama, Hot for Teacher, and I'll Wait.  A little slicker than any of their earlier output but that's to be expected as they maturing (well, as much as they could I guess).

5150    Released: March 24, 1986     Didn't know what to expect and didn't hate the result, but I didn't think it was as good as DLR VH.  I was in college and I remember sitting with my finger on the "record" button of a cassette player when a radio stations said they were going to play the new VH song Why Can't This Be Love.  I caught it and took the cassette to a party in my dorm basement that very night.  We put it on the house system and everybody HATED it!  Boos and groans.  Next thing you know, that album was all you heard.  It would be coming out of 4 or 5 different dorm rooms ALL THE TIME.  Not a fan of Sammy's lyrics.

OU812    Released: May 24, 1988   OK, but nothing exciting for me.  As for the title - there's a thin line between clever and stupid.  Saw the Monsters of Rock tour and thought Kingdom Come, Metallica, and Scorpions were all better which was a little sad.

For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge    Released: June 17, 1991     Another Van Hagar album.  Yawn...OK...thanks...next!

Balance    Released: January 24, 1995     By now I have decided I don't care much about this band anymore.  Still going to at least one concert every tour.

Van Halen III    Released: March 17, 1998     Yikes!  Just when I thought feeling neutral to the mighty VH was as bad as it could get, they prove me wrong with an album I actually DISlike.  I've listened to this one less than 10 times in the 22 years since its release and I think that was plenty.

A Different Kind of Truth    Released: February 7, 2012  Highly anticipated and the music did not let me down.  DLR's voice is so shot I had a hard time really loving this one, but I'm still glad they did it and it was fun catching all the recycled riffs from prior songs I had heard on bootlegs.

Edited by tommy p
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I was 18, trying my best to be Billy Gibbons or Jimmy Page, and working in a gas station when "Eruption/You Really Got Me" came on the radio. I immediately thought, 'Well fuck. This changes everything'.

And it did.

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22 hours ago, Biz Prof said:

I could go on for days about the first four albums, but when they hit it huge with 1984, I skipped over the "hits" and became mesmerized by "Girl Gone Bad".

Some rock songs exude a badass Southern California sound, and that cut has it in spades. That tune was just perfect for drinking a cheap beer (underaged) and watching the sun set in a purple tinged sky from a rural hillside on a lazy summer evening.

I really think the guys hit their peak with that track and I knew then that they'd accomplished the musical equivalent of winning both the batting average and HR titles in the same season. The hits were there on 1984, but so was the musicianship.  What a great time to be an aimless teenager and guitar nut.

Girl Gone Bad is my favorite song on that album.

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Although I bought the first 3 records when they came out, I can‘t tell what has been the life changing effect to me, cause then I had lost track of them until Jump. After that, I didn‘t like the Sammy years. I have always seen them as a unique band rather than the guitarist pointing out. With DLR‘s style of singing, posing and jazz in many of their songs they had caught me. So, when Roth left, I continued to follow him, to discover Steve Vai etc. 
Later on, I bought Diver Down on vinyl and Fair Warning on CD. Just recently I bought 1984 on vintage (original) vinyl. Just to fill up the collection.
Although I‘m aware of Eddie unique playing style and influence, I bought Brian May’s StarFleet when it came out and loved it, Van Halen for the most part to me is DLR.

Added: Obviously I bought ADKOT for Roth having returned. And VH III was just a mess.

Edited by gorch
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I was taking guitar lessons in a small music shop in Harrington, DE when VH broke. Into all the greats and learning. I cannot overxemphasize what a game changer EVH was. Every album was something new that blew us away.

VH1- the tone, the tapping (which no one could figure out at first),his speed, his extreme use of the vibrato bar, and the capper was Eruption. NO ONE ELSE WAS DOING THAT. It sent us scrambling... “How did he do that?”

VH2- the beginning of his solo on the cover of You’e No Good remains a mystery....but there was more....the hard rock punch of Doctor and DOA, the Spanish Fly...that proved it wasn’t studio trickery...it was his fingers. That was huge too. I saw the sheet music for a Spanish Fly when my instructor bought it and for tempo at one point it said “as fast as possible”. Mind blower. He could do it on acoustic too. Then the harmonic tapping on DTNA and Women In Love...he gave that secret away in Guitar Player and I scored free lesson when I explained it to my instructor. He came in with Women In Love prepared but said he didn’t get the tone right on the chimey intro...I explained how EVH did it and it clicked and he played it instantly and showed it to me. I still play that lick. And the end of the Doctor solo harmonic thing...? Still a wonderfully magical mystery for me. NO ONE ELSE WAS DOING THESE THINGS...

WACF-the intro to Cradle was more of the same though not technical wizardry...but no one else made the electric guitar sound like that...the wild abandon of Romeo Delight rhythm and lead...his finger vibrato! The whammy bar on Everybody Wants Some...the blues Intro to Fools...The Les Paul licks on Whiskey...as a slide player I freaked when I heard there was a slide part on Magic....he sounded like no one else. The reckless abandon and joy in his playing was all over this one. NO ONE ELSE SOUNDED LIKE THIS or PLAYED LIKE THIS.

Fair Warning— by now a VH listening party was us always expecting to hear something other-worldly that no one had done before. And here it comes...Mean Streets....WTF was he doing? Once again minds blown. This dark, dirty album became many guitarists fave VH. I dig the slide on Dirty Movies, Unchained is a tour de force, and So This Is Love has such a happy, poppy sound with a solo which just kills. His playing on this album was just astonishing...yet again. NO ONE ELSE WAS DOING THIS. Randy had appeared and was the closest thing.

Beat It-I remember where I was when I first heard this. Working stocking shelves in the Rehoboth, DE Ames dept store. New MJ. Sounded cool...but when the solo started I instantly knew who it was. From the dinosaur waking up intro to the rising tremolo picking on the final notes of the solo was pure EVH. NO ONE ELSE WAAS DOING THIS OR SOUNDING LIKE THIS.

Always the mind-blower. The GOAT.

 

Edited by Jakeboy
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35 minutes ago, Jakeboy said:

I was taking guitar lessons in a small music shop in Harrington, DE when VH broke. Into all the greats and learning. I cannot overxemphasize what a game changer EVH was. Every album was something new that blew us away.

VH1- the tone, the tapping (which no one could figure out at first),his speed, his extreme use of the vibrato bar, and the capper was Eruption. NO ONE ELSE WAS DOING THAT. It sent us scrambling... “How did he do that?”

VH2- the beginning of his solo on the cover of You’e No Good remains a mystery....but there was more....the hard rock punch of Doctor and DOA, the Spanish Fly...that proved it wasn’t studio trickery...it was his fingers. That was huge too. I saw the sheet music for a Spanish Fly when my instructor bought it and for tempo at one point it said “as fast as possible”. Mind blower. He could do it on acoustic too. Then the harmonic tapping on DTNA and Women In Love...he gave that secret away in Guitar Player and I scored free lesson when I explained it to my instructor. He came in with Women In Love prepared but said he didn’t get the tone right on the chimey intro...I explained how EVH did it and it clicked and he played it instantly and showed it to me. I still play that lick. And the end of the Doctor solo harmonic thing...? Still a wonderfully magical mystery for me. NO ONE ELSE WAS DOING THESE THINGS...

WACF-the intro to Cradle was more of the same though not technical wizardry...but no one else made the electric guitar sound like that...the wild abandon of Romeo Delight rhythm and lead...his finger vibrato! The whammy bar on Everybody Wants Some...the blues ev Intro to Fools...The Les Paul licks on Whiskey...as a slide player I freaked when a I heard there was a slide part on Magic....he sounded like no one else. The reckless abandon and joy in his p,aging was all over this one. NO ONE ELSE SOUNDED LIKE THISZ or PLAYED LIKE THIS.

Fair Warning— by now a VH listening party was us always expecting to hear something other-worldly that no one had done before. And here it comes...Mean Streets....WTF was he doing? Once again minds blown. This dark, dirty album became many guitarists fave VH. I dig the slide on Dirty Movies, Unchained is a tour de force, and So This Is Love has such a happy, poppy sound with a solo which just kills. His playing on this album was just astonishing...yet again. NO ONE ELSE WAS DOING THIS. Randy had appeared and was the closest thing.

Beat It-I remember where I was when I first heard this. Working stocking shelves in the Rehoboth, DE Ames dept store. New MJ. Sounded cool...but when the solo started I instantly knew who it was. From the dinosaur waking up intro to the rising tremolo picking on the final notes of the solo was pure EVH. NO ONE ELSE WAAS DOING THIS OR SOUNDING LIKE THIS.

Alwasy the mind-blower. The GOAT.

 

You said it perfectly!

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57 minutes ago, Jakeboy said:

....the intro to Cradle was more of the same though not technical wizardry...but no one else made the electric guitar sound like that....

Because (I read this somewhere and didn't see it with my own eyes) it was someone banging on the keys of a heavily flanged Fender Rhodes, thru a Marshall.

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@mathmanthanks!

@hamerheadI believe Cradle was the first recorded keys EVH played, you can hear it in the middle break before “Junior’s grades” but I always thought or assumed it was on guitar during the intro and at other points in the song when he did it. IIRC he was able to replicate it live on guitar....but That is cool if it was the Rhodes instead.  Still learning from EVH....

Edited by Jakeboy
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22 hours ago, mathman said:

Girl Gone Bad is my favorite song on that album.

That track is one of a few that screams "late night, wet streets, neon lights" to me...  Not sure why, but it does.  :) 

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As mentioned in the TDC thread, I first caught Women and Children First then, as 12-14 year old males will do, memorized most of the other DLR era albums through cassette tapes recorded from borrowed records (Maxell X-II 90's, 'natch).  

Album: memory

Diver Down: thought Pretty Woman was cool because I knew the original Roy Orbisson.  My parents would host friends for pinochle card games and they'd drink wine, play cards, and listen to the oldies

VH1,2: my brother and I stacking the Fisher(!!) tower speakers outside and cranking them while stacking wood for the stove in the coming winter.

Women and Children, Mean Streets: Darker, sleazier rock.  Absolutely love them.  Beer bottles and take your whisky home stuff.  Best part of seeing Better Off Dead* aged 17 in the theater was the hamburger clay-mation scene.  I know from the first drum beat where that was going, so my buddies and I were cheering like nuts.

1984: Skiing.  Instead of Girl Gone Bad, it was Top Jimmy and Drop Dead Legs that were the deep cuts I liked.  Drop Dead Legs to me is freezing my ass off on a rickety chair lift at Crotched Mountain, NH, stopping every 100 feet, cranking through an off-brand walkman into Kjoss headphones tucked tight against my head under my hat but over my bandanna and then jumping down into the Blitz trail.  And wiping out on landing.

5150: A really big deal. Similar experience as @tommy p hearing it "coming right up!" on the radio driving my sister and her friend back from their lake house.  It finally came on as we pulled into the driveway so we sat there and listened to it, turned off the car, and looked at each other.  "Huh."  Even they recognized the significance of the moment. It was so different from what Van Halen was; I still do like the song and the synth intro.  I knew who Sammy was because of Heavy Metal soundtrack and a few of his other hits so to me it was VH getting a respectable front man.  Memories?  Saw them in Worcester that August and went off to freshman year of college wearing the concert T to be cool.  Say what you want, but watch the 5150 New Haven concert video and tell me they weren't having fun and full of energy.  Over time, 5150 gets regular rotation.  Rest of Van Hagar?  No impressions.  Just stuff. Finish What you Started was good because of Eddie's guitar.  Given the rumors of having Patty Smythe front the band when Dave was out, and the likelihood of an affair, that would have been cool.  Her performance of Whole Lotta Love on Letterman in 86 showed her rock and roll potential.

A Different Kind of Truth: I witnessed that era here.  They played at my company's annual customer conference in Orlando so I got to see them again, free.  Sound mix was atrocious.  Dave was Dave, but old.  Weird stories.  Spun the mic stand a lot.  Eddie was on; his solo was flawless.  Wolfie had his own signature bass.  Fine.  Missed Michael Anthony.  They played a lot of deeper VH album cuts, to my surprise.  Bunch of 40s-50s tech business people really didn't get it and only got excited for Jump (go figure) which was their last song.

* The quintessential 80s teen movie

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@ToadrollerYES! Maxell X-II 90s....I dubbed so many LPs on those, Istill find one occasionally.....

I agree on 5150...just listened to it last night. I remember what  Carl’s Jr. parking lot I was in in Austin, TX in 1985 With my wife and infant daughter when the DJ announced he was playing new VH. We sat and listened and “huh” was my same reaction. It was so synth heavy. I knew Sammy as a rocker. They should have released Good Enough first to reassure all the hard-core VH heads..,Sammy’s Big Bopper intro coupled with EVH’s then-new horse whinnie into that rockin’ riff sounded like the VH I knew and loved.  But what do I know? The album did pretty good THEIR way didn’t it ? Lol #1.

Edited by Jakeboy
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It started for me with the 5150 album. After that I got the existing records one by one and stayed on top with the new ones. I was 16-17 years of age and totally into Hamer already. Sneaking around our local music store, dreaming of getting a Hamer one day myself. That time I realized Eddie played the weird beat it stuff. The more I did catch up on the old stuff and saw the old live videos, I found Roth delivered an awesome show, too. I tried to learn my favorite VH tunes by listening and repeating the records and tapes over and over again. At least the ones I could possibly digest. 

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For me it is the Balance Album. I listened to Van Halen and my sister was a Van Hagar Fan. But when I heard the opening to Don't Tell Me, I was captured by a sound from another planet. The whole song and album is part of my DNA as a guitar playing. The wide spread of the guitar, the touch harmonics, scrapes, and a lead that was its own piece of music. You can take an EVH song and it stands on its own, the music stands on it own, the lyric is the icing on the cake. The whole Balance Album for me, that tour really was a big part of my teens. I played in a band, I wasn't that good, I didn't do drugs, I didn't drink, I really didn't fit in with the in crowd. But Ed came out during that time clean cut, dressed nice like a normal dude and really did, make it easier for me to fit in. 

Although he was an amazing guitar player, Edward Van Halen was one hell of a Musician. 

 

 

Edited by bubs_42
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I heard Runnin' With The Devil for the first time in 1978/79 on Minneapolis' finest, KQRS - back when djs had freedom to spin tracks du jour. I was just a kid ..cloudy memories of Fleetwood Mac, BTO, REO, ELO, Supertramp, The Bee Gees: so when that speed-adjusted trainwhistle started, compared to those other familiar sounds, my young brain thought "oh jeepers, what's this?". Sounded like NOTHING ELSE and made me go crazy!

From there forward my bedroom walls accumulated EVH photos and posters. Mike Anthony and Alex too! I thought Dave was awesome but the posters of him available then made me think "those are for girls!".

My parents were both musicians and thankfully were really open minded with my music obsession. I bought all the albums as quick as I could with my saved allowance and lawn-mowing money blasting them loud (when allowed) through my Dads Marantz and EV "Voice of the Theater" massive home system, listening patiently to KQRS for Van Halen tracks and ripping airplay to cassette tapes so I could play them in my room on my ye olden Sony boombox.. my bedroom gradually turning into an EVH, MA, and AVH shrine - also Steve Vai and Zappa posters/photos mixed in ...right up until I left home.

Van Halen as a band made me want to play rock and roll music. I wanted to be EVH! And Steve Vai! To be that super guitar hero, smiling, killing it 24/7 - not the front guy exactly, but sort of.

During these young days, thanks to my musician parents and the guitars, basses, and drum set I had at my disposal I tried to be all of Van Halen! Hours and hours and hours put in with Koss headphones in my Sony boombox, punishing my ears, working on it, learning, and trying to get the skills together. This was the band that made me know and understand what I was supposed to do for the rest of my life.

Ah, the good old days. Where have all the good times gone. Ironically a Kinks tune, which I knew previously from Dads LP collection. RIP Ed. Thank you for everything.

 

Edited by JGravelin
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Addendum: I ended up as the bass player who sings the high stuff. And bonus electronics geek/pickup making enthusiast. A mix of EVH and MA in sense. I'm ok with that.

 

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@JGravelin, I still use and love Koss headphones. Loved your story. As I was reading, I thought, “He became a pickup making Mikey!”

Good days indeed.

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