The late Eddie Van Halen — the subject of a special new Rolling Stone tribute package, including a digital cover story — and his bandmates have been at the center of multiple episodes of our Rolling Stone Music Now podcast in recent years. Here’s a look at some of the highlights:
Most recently, we played a never-before-heard interview with Eddie, accompanied by a conversation with Greg Renoff, author of the deeply researched early-years biography Van Halen Rising, and tributes from Tom Morello, Steve Vai, and Kiss’ Gene Simmons.
Renoff dug into Eddie’s influences, behind the oft-cited Eric Clapton. “Clapton was kind of the stock answer,” said Renoff. “But clearly Ritchie Blackmore, for sure. I always thought some of the more aggressive classical stuff and the whammy bar stuff had some Richie Blackmore flavor. Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath. Cactus, which is Carmen Appice’s band, was a big influence on the brothers, especially those high-powered shuffles they loved. “Hot For Teacher” was drawn from Cactus. There were other bands that are super obscure, like Captain Beyond. And also Montrose with Sammy [Hagar].”
Last year, we delved into the weird controversy that ensued when Billie Eilish told Jimmy Kimmel she’d never heard of Van Halen. That, our panel determined, was totally reasonable, while we went on to discuss the unexpected parallels between the two artists (both she and David Lee Roth are good at the “talking parts of songs,” Rob Sheffield pointed out), the nature of musical generation gaps, and the state of Van Halen’s legacy.
In 2017, Noel Monk — Van Halen’s road manager and then manager in their early years — stopped by to share some of the stories from his memoir, Running with the Devil. He started by discussing what happened if a promoter violated the group’s infamous no-brown-M&Ms rule (which was, of course, a test to make sure the promoter read and followed the contract): “I wouldn’t go nuts,” Monk said. “I’d just collect $100 and give beer money to the crew.” He also explained how Van Halen’s original line-up was doomed by some combination of ” drugs, alcohol, jealousy, money, egos, power [and] musical differences.”
Also in 2017, the podcast featured an interview with Sammy Hagar, conducted by Andy Greene. In addition to sharing life lessons, Hagar spoke of his hope for a Van Halen tour that would include both him and David Lee Roth alternating on vocals. “I would love to give the fans the greatest Van Halen show they could possibly have today,” Hagar said.
Download and subscribe to our weekly podcast, Rolling Stone Music Now, hosted by Brian Hiatt, on iTunes or Spotify (or wherever you get your podcasts), and check out three years’ worth of episodes in the archive, including in-depth, career-spanning interviews with Bruce Springsteen, Halsey, Neil Young, the National, Questlove, Julian Casablancas, Sheryl Crow, Johnny Marr, Scott Weiland, Alice Cooper, Fleetwood Mac, Elvis Costello, Donald Fagen, Phil Collins, Alicia Keys, Stephen Malkmus, Sebastian Bach, Tom Petty, Kelly Clarkson, Pete Townshend, Bob Seger, the Zombies, Gary Clark Jr., and many more — plus dozens of episodes featuring genre-spanning discussions, debates, and explainers with Rolling Stone’s critics and reporters. Tune in every Friday at 1 p.m. ET to hear Rolling Stone Music Now broadcast on SiriusXM’s Volume, channel 106.