Iconic rocker Eddie Van Halen took the world by storm with his legendary talent, but sadly lost his battle to throat cancer on Tuesday, October 6. In celebration of his life and legacy, the Van Halen band members pay tribute to the star on Van Halen: Breaking The Band, airing Friday, October 9, on REELZ.
Featuring interviews from band members Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony as well as Van Halen biographer Greg Renoff and rock music journalist Eddie Trunk, Breaking The Band will re-examine how Van Halen rose to fame and became leader of the biggest rock band in the world. With exclusive "home movie" footage from young Van Halen and his pals, viewers will get an inside look into the early success of the once fresh-faced rock stars.
Van Halen — who was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2007 — laid the blueprint for what rock became in the '80s. "They were the ones who bridged the heavy rock bands from the early '70s and brought it into the '80s," Renoff explained.
The group became known for their raucous live performances and excess, from their wild hair to their penchant for spandex. "It was like a circus," Trunk added. "It was like the ultimate hard-rock circus and anchored by the most important element: great songs."
However, not everything was as glamorous as it appeared on stage. The rock-star lifestyle is filled with partying and substance abuse. Underlying their fame and success was a constant battle for control between brothers Eddie and Alex Van Halen — who were at the heart of the band, which they formed in 1972 — and its lead singer, David Lee Roth. Years of touring, partying, clashing personalities and substance abuse ultimately got the best of Roth's ambitions, and he was forced out by the brothers.
Despite the behind-the-scenes tension, Eddie called upon Hagar to take the lead as the new frontman. Against the odds, the band reached new heights, with No. 1 songs like "Top of the Word" and "Why Can't This Be Love." Looking back on the wild success and fame, Hagar recalled, "It was the greatest musical experience of my life."
After winning a Grammy Award for their album For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, the group cemented their position in the music world. Their record-breaking success had never been seen before. "We were like a four-headed serpent," Anthony explained, "and nothing was going to stand in our way."
Throughout their fame, Eddie remained the epicenter of the band. After battling cancer for several years, the guitarist — who is well known for popularizing the tapping guitar solo technique — died at the age of 65, leaving a lasting impact on the rock 'n' roll world forever. Now, looking back at Van Halen's success, Breaking the Band sits down with the former frontman and bassist to reveal how it all went down.
Watch it all unfold on REELZ in Van Halen: Breaking The Band, airing Friday, October 9, at 9 p.m. EST.
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