VAN HALEN RISING with author & historian Greg Renoff

Greg was brought up in New Jersey, USA “I grew up loving history, and eventually got a PhD in the discipline. I spent about two decades in academia, and was a college professor for over a decade. All that time, my childhood love for rock music remained strong”. 

In 2020, Greg released the authorized autobiography of Grammy winning record producer Ted Templeman (Van Halen, Van Morrison, Doobie Brothers, Little Feat). His latest book is ‘Van Halen Rising: How a Southern California Backyard Party Band Saved Heavy Metal’.

Van Halen toured the UK in 1978 opening for Black Sabbath did you come across any stories from that tour?

“I write about the VH/Sabbath UK tour a lot in Van Halen Rising. One of the main reasons I wrote the book and looked at Van Halen’s ‘pre-fame’ years was I wanted to know – how did Van Halen become a band good enough to blow Black Sabbath off the stage? Those questions couldn’t be answered by focusing on 1981 or 1982. It had to be focusing on earlier years”.

Van Halen debut album released 1978.

What inspired you to write Van Halen Rising?

“I grew up a big Van Halen fan, and by the time I became a historian, I was struck by how little info was available about their early beginnings. There hadn’t been a book that had looked at those years”.

“If I wanted to learn the details of how The Detours became the Who, I could read that story in any number of books, if I wanted to learn the details of how the New Yardbirds became Led Zeppelin, a group that stormed the globe and released some of the best albums in rock history, I could read that story in any number of books”.

“But if I wanted to learn about how Van Halen, a band that recorded one of the most successful debuts in rock history, wowed stadium crowds in 1978, and became giants, I couldn’t read that story anywhere”.

Where and when did you first hear Van Halen ?

“I was 14 in 1984 and for me once I heard ‘Jump’ that was it. Then I was able to see Van Halen on the ‘1984’ album tour – a guy in my homeroom class had scalped a ticket. I paid 50 bucks for it in ’84, but was just so desperate to go. And that was it. I became a big fan”.

“So, I saw Van Halen on a Monday night, April 2, 1984. That night, the band was just so larger than life. I’d seen a couple of concerts but the stage was so much bigger, the lights were brighter, it was louder and it was so much more energetic and just a spectacle”.

“Roth jumping off the drum riser and the other thing I remember he stood on the edge of the stage and said “F— the rest of the concert. Let’s go to the bar across the street and get drunk”.

“He was just doing whatever he wanted and I thought it was amazing. And of course Eddie’s guitar playing. You left with your ears ringing and you were so overwhelmed by the whole sensation of the band”.

Researching for the book did you come across any funny or surprising stories ?

“So many, but one comes to mind. There was a huge backyard party in November 1974 in Pasadena. The kids who threw the party went to high school with the Van Halen brothers and they just loved the band”.

“Their parents went off to Mexico so they threw this massive party at their home that Van Halen played at. There were hundreds of kids in attendance. It ended up that the riot police from one of the sheriff’s departments broke up the party!”

‘Van Halen Rising: How a Southern California Backyard Party Band Saved Heavy Metal’ out now.

For more information contact Greg at the official website:

Van Halen Rising – How a Southern California Backyard Party Band Saved Heavy Metal | Greg Renoff | ECW Press

Alikivi  June 2022

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