- Buy the book
Reviewed by R. David Smola
an Christie does an excellent job of reporting the Van Halen drama in his 300+ page Everybody Wants Some: The Van Halen Saga. Chronologically he documents the humble beginnings of the brothers Van Halen through the false start of their current tour which was postponed so Eddie could clean up (yet again). Saga is a perfect word for this soap opera. There really are no villains, just egos, talent, innovation, anger, resentment, reconciliation, divorces, parties, debauchery and one of the greatest guitar talents or our lifetime. Edward Lodwijk van Halen is as flawed as he is talented.
There are great characters in the story and some really unexplainable twists and turns. I don’t think the author, the audience nor Michael Anthony are completely sure to this day why Eddie turned on him. It really isn’t super clear why Anthony had to sign an agreement on the Van Hagar re-union tour to essentially give up royalties and become an employee nor why he has been replaced by 16 year old Wolfgang on the current tour. It appears as if Eddie didn’t like Mike’s playing Van Halen stuff with Hagar when the brothers were sitting music out for a while and the bizarre Sam and Dave (Lee Roth) tour was barnstorming America, playing the Van Halen catalogue live when the brothers wouldn’t.
The linear structure serves the story well moving quickly through the Van Halen’s childhood and detailing the different band incarnations until the line-up was complete. Christie details the incredible work ethic that drove them to play every local party and bar carefully refining their music and style. Eddie is a Dr. Frankenstein of guitars, constantly ripping them apart and adding new pickups and fooling with his amps, etc. While wild man Alex is partying and womanizing in the early years before they were signed, Eddie spends all of his spare time with his guitar. David Lee Roth is a goofball, a hyper-active three ring circus all by himself. The fascinating dynamics between him and the rest of the band as he tests the water for his solo career before eventually leaving is riveting. His fall from stardom to volunteer paramedic while the band soars with Sammy Hagar is fascinating.
The pattern of finding the perfect lead singer (in Roth, then in Hagar, then in Cherone, then Hagar, and now Roth currently) only to divorce because the relationship grows strained is another strength of the book. Christie presents this information from all sides, not judging, just relaying the information from the different perspectives (that he gathered because it doesn’t appear as if the band members cooperated with him).
The book stops as the re-union with Roth is postponed again because Eddie has to clean up for the millionth time. His alcoholism cost him his marriage and is responsible for a lot of irresponsible behavior including embarrassing incidents at Dimebag Darrel’s memorial service and backstage at a Nirvana show. The book gives equal time to exloring his faults as it does honoring his unique talent. This is an excellent read.