Van Halen: The Legendary Rock Band’s Members, Music, and More

wolfgang van halen with the other members of the van halen band
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Van Halen is a band that needs no introduction. With numerous tours, albums, and hit songs throughout their nearly half-a-century career, they have become one of the most legendary bands in the history of rock music.

Here’s everything there is to know about the 2007 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Van Halen.

van halen members in 2007 at the reunion tour
Image from Shutterstock.

Who is Van Halen?

Van Halen is the one and only American rock band best known for “restoring hard rock to the forefront of the music scene,” thanks to their dynamic live shows and for the level of musicianship, they possessed, particularly amongst its founding members.

When Was Van Halen Founded?

Van Halen was founded in 1973 by brothers Eddie and Alex Van Halen.

The band was originally founded under the name Mammoth with Eddie Van Halen serving as vocalist and lead guitarist and Alex Van Halen as the drummer, while their friend, Mark Stone, provided bass.

By the time David Lee Roth joined as lead vocalist, the band’s name was changed to Van Halen, and they were soon off and running.

eddie van halen smiling on stage with his guitar
Image from Shutterstock.

Who Are the Members of Van Halen?

Like many bands of the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, Van Halen had many changes in its membership over the years. The only two members who remained with the band from beginning to end were its co-founders and namesakes – guitarist and keyboardist Eddie Van Halen and drummer and percussionist Alex Van Halen.

Mark Stone, bassist and backing vocalist, was the only other original band member, but he only remained until 1974.

David Lee Roth came in as the lead vocalist and occasional guitarist from 1974-1985. He returned for a year in 1996 and didn’t permanently rejoin the group until 2007, remaining on lead vocals until they disbanded in 2020.

When Roth left the band for the first time, Sammy Hagar took over the lead vocals and some guitar parts from 1985-1996. He returned from 2003-2005 after Gary Cherone ended his tenure as lead vocalist (1996-1999).

Michael Anthony served as the band’s bassist and backing vocalist from 1974 to 2006, taking over for Stone.

Wolfgang Van Halen, son of Eddie Van Halen and future Mammoth WVH founder, took over as the band’s final bassist and one of the backing vocalists from 2006 until the band’s disbandment in 2020, following his father’s death.

Related: Wolfgang Van Halen: The Huge Career of Eddie Van Halen’s Son

Van Halen’s Net Worth

When Van Halen disbanded, the band’s qualitative net worth was approximately $225 million.

Eddie Van Halen was the richest of them all, with a $100 million net worth to his name.

How Did Van Halen Become Famous?

Van Halen was hot on the California scene during its first few years, playing at clubs in festivals in Pasadena, Venice, and San Bernardino, with a couple of thousand people coming to hear them play every night. As their fan following grew, the professionals began to take notice.

The band’s big break came in 1977, when they were signed to a record contract with Warner Bros, and the world was soon introduced to the already popular band with some massive Van Halen albums and memorable Van Halen songs to boot.

david lee roth with eddie von halen singing on stage
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Van Halen’s Career

Van Halen released its debut self-titled album a year after they signed with Warner Bros., and it was received well right off the bat, peaking at No. 19 on the Billboard 200. It remains one of the most commercially successful debuts in rock music.

They were soon off and “Runnin’ with the Devil” as lead guitarist Eddie Van Halen soon started making headways with his “finger-tapping” technique showcased on his “Eruption” guitar solo.

Van Halen embarked on their first tour, opening up for Black Sabbath for the next nine months, and the world soon came to know them as the band with the most energetic live shows in the business.

When Van Halen II was released in 1979, the band relished in their first hit single, “Dance the Night Away,” topping out at 15 on the Hot 100 chart.

Knowing their capacity for putting on live shows, the future “Hot for Teacher” singers’ concert tours continued almost non-stop for the next four years, embarking on the 1978 World Tour, the 1979 World Vacation Tour, and the 1980 World Invasion Tour. The momentum continued with the Fair Warning Tour in 1981, the Hide Your Sheep Tour from 1982-1983, and finally, the 1984 Tour.  

In between the latter two, the band found themselves featured in the Guinness Book of World Records after their appearance at Steve Wozniak’s 1983 US Festival, for which they were paid $1.5 million for a 90-minute set, earning them the title of the highest-paid single appearance of a band.

Van Halen didn’t deprive fans of new music during that time, setting a standard of releasing quality work quickly. It only took the “Panama” singers two weeks to record new albums, such as Women and Children First (1980), Fair Warning (1981), Diver Down (1982), and 1984 (1984).

1984 became the first of their albums to be recorded at Eddie Van Halen’s 5150 Studios and is where the rest of the “Jump” band’s albums would be recorded for the rest of their career. It became one of the “I’ll Wait” singers’ most successful albums, going five-times platinum in just a year and peaking at No. 2 behind Michael Jackson’s Thriller on the Billboard charts.

After dealing with band member changes and woes, particularly with Sammy Hagar replacing David Lee Roth after Patty Smyth of Scandal turned down the offer, Van Halen came out with their next album, 5150, in 1986.

The former “I Can’t Drive 55” singer brought a new vibe to the band, with Warner Brothers president Mo Ostin saying, “I smelly money” after hearing the band play “Why Can’t This Be Love” in the recording studio. The album, 5150, which also featured a new logo for the band, eventually became their first number-one album and sent the “Dreams” and “Love Walks In” singers on their next Van Halen tour in 1986. Footage of the tour, titled Live Without a Net, was later released on VHS and DVD.

The band followed it up with their next album, OU812, in 1988, bringing out such singles as “When It’s Love,” which peaked at number 5 on the charts.

Even through more band changes, temporary reunions, and more, their effort to make music and bring their tours to fans worldwide only continued.

Throughout the 1990s, they would release three more records – For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge (1991), Balance (1995), and Van Halen III (1998) – and embark on four more tours, including the For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge Tour (1991-1992), the Right Here Right Now Tour in 1993, the Balance Tour in 1995, and the III Tour in 1998.

After more than two decades of non-stop music-making and touring, fans had to focus on the memories of their favorite band, as they went on hiatus for four years (1999-2003), releasing no new music or official statements. While some attempts were made to reform past members, nothing came to fruition due to creative differences among members.

They didn’t leave fans waiting too long, however. Upon releasing their two-disc compilation album, The Best of Both Worlds, in July 2004, which featured new singles “It’s About Time,” “Up for Breakfast,” and “Learning to See,” Van Halen was thrust back into the spotlight.

Their comeback tour, The Summer 2004 tour, became one of the highest-grossing tours of that year, bringing in $55 million. Later, during the North American Tour 2007-2008, Wolfgang Van Halen was officially introduced to Van Halen fans.

In 2012, fans got what they’d been hoping for the last 24 years when Van Halen came out with, what would prove to be, their final studio album, A Different Kind of Truth, and the “Tattoo” singers embarked on the tour of the same name from 2012-2013. Almost every show was sold out for the tour, becoming one of their biggest commercial successes.

For 39 dates in 2015, the band set out on their final North American Tour.

Five years later, Eddie Van Halen succumbed to his many years of health struggles, dying of a stroke on Oct. 6, 2020. One month later, his son, Wolfgang Van Halen, officially announced their disbandment, proving what Sammy Hagar said just five months earlier in an interview in response to David Lee Roth’s statement that “I think Van Halen is finished.”

Hagar simply replied, “Until Ed or Alex Van Halen die, they’re not finished.”

Wolfgang Van Halen said it best, however, following the announcement. “You can’t have Van Halen without Eddie Van Halen.”

Related: 6 Best Rock Bands of All Time

Van Halen’s Awards

Not only was Van Halen inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007, but they received some other prominent awards and nominations over the years. Their 1991 studio album, For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, proved their biggest award earner, leading them to win the Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance in 1992. The album also won them the American Music Award for Favorite Heavy Metal/Hard Rock Album.

Van Halen also took home four MTV Video Music Awards Over the Years. Their single, “Jump,” earned them the 1984 award for Best Stage Performance in a Video, and “Right Now” earned them the Video of the Year honor, as well as Best Direction in a Video by director Mark Fenske and Best Editing in a Video by editor Mitchell Sinoway.

eddie van halen on stage with his son wolfgang van halen
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Who Owns the Rights to Van Halen Music?

Five years before Eddie Van Halen’s untimely death and the end of Van Halen as we knew it, he and his brother, Alex Van Halen, signed a deal with Atlas Music Group, giving the latter the publishing rights to the band’s entire music catalog. The only album excluded was the band’s last, A Different Kind of Truth, released in 2012.  

“This deal has been a long time coming. I have been after Irvin Azoff and Peter Paterno [manager and lawyer of Alex and Eddie Van Halen, respectively] for five years to find out if there would ever be an opportunity to work with the Van Halen catalog,” Atlas Music Group CEO Rich Stumpf told Billboard at the time of the deal. “They are my favorite all-time band, so this is kind of a surreal moment where my professional and personal lives are coming together.”

Stumpf assured fans, too, that Van Halen’s music would only be used in the most premiere ways.

“This is a premium catalog, so we will look for the right films and brand advertisers to place their music with,” he said. “That is how you maintain the value of the (legendary artists) catalog by reaching the younger generations that come along. A lot of the decision makers themselves are young, so we will have to educate them on the importance of Van Halen and not just their many hits.”

We’re glad to know their music remains in the hands of someone who loves the band just as much as we do.

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Written by Katie Peterson

Katie Peterson received her bachelor's degree in English from the University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth in 2015. She has worked in journalism since 2015, beginning as production assistant and eventual head staff writer of the Fort Leavenworth Lamp newspaper in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Currently, she is a multimedia journalist with the Diocese of Nashville's Office of Media and Evangelization where she writes, does photography, and edits for several types of content, including the Tennessee Register, Catholic Awakenings, and She has also worked as a freelance journalist with the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas's newspaper, The Leaven, since 2016.
In her spare time, Peterson enjoys reading, spending time with her pup, Sadie Lynn, singing and songwriting.


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