"Happy 59th Birthday"
Alex Van Halen
Alexander Arthur "Alex" Van Halen is a Dutch-born American musician, best known as the drummer and co-founder of the hard rock band Van Halen. Originally, his brother Eddie had taken lessons for drums, while Alex practiced guitar. After spending time playing Eddie's drum kit, Alex became more skillful at the drums than Eddie.
In 1974, the Van Halen brothers, David Lee Roth, and Michael Anthony formed a band, simply called Van Halen. They were signed to Warner Brothers in 1977 and released their first album in 1978. The two brothers are the only members of Van Halen who have been in the band for its entire duration.
Alex Van Halen was born in Amsterdam. His Dutch father was an accomplished jazz saxophonist and clarinet player. His mother Eugenia is an Indo (Eurasian) from Indonesia. He spent his childhood in Nijmegen in the east of the country. The family moved to Pasadena, California in 1962.
Both Alex and Eddie Van Halen were trained as classical pianists in their childhood. Although Alex is known as a professional drummer, he began his musical aspirations as a guitarist, with his brother Eddie taking up drums. While Eddie was delivering newspapers to pay for his drum kit, Alex would practice playing on them. When Eddie heard Alex's mastery of The Surfaris drum solo in the song "Wipe Out", he decided to begin learning to play the electric guitar. He was also influenced by Budgie drummer, Ray Phillips.
In 1971, Alex graduated from Pasadena High School in California. He then took classes in music theory, scoring, composition and arranging at Pasadena City College for a short while.
While attending Pasadena City College, Alex met Michael Anthony and David Lee Roth.
They formed the band Mammoth, and Alex, along with the others, left Pasadena City College.
Alex had several early bands with Eddie before Van Halen came to be. Names of these previous bands include The Broken Off Combs, The Space Brothers & Mammoth Chammoth.
In 1972, Alex and Eddie formed Mammoth with Mark Stone on bass and Eddie on lead vocals. The band rented David Lee Roth's PA system for their shows. Soon after, Edward became tired of singing lead vocals, and decided to have Roth join the band, as it was also much cheaper .
Later, in 1977, since the name Mammoth was already taken by another band, the name was replaced by Van Halen, and Stone was replaced by Michael Anthony. Roth has claimed that it was his idea to rename the band Van Halen, and that he actually named it after Alex. In addition to his musical duties at this time, Alex was busy handling managerial duties, such as booking gigs, etc. for the band. Their 1978 album Van Halen was released to much fanfare, influencing many musicians in hard rock.
In spite of the fact that the term "brown sound" is generally associated with Eddie's guitar, Alex originated the term to refer to the sound of his snare drum.
At live shows, Alex is known for being an entertainer, performing aggressive drum solos and stage pyrotechnics.
The only non–Van Halen example of Alex's musicianship can be found on the soundtrack to the movie Twister. The instrumental "Respect the Wind" (for which the Van Halen brothers were nominated for a Grammy Award in 1997 for Best Rock Instrumental Performance) features Alex on keyboards (with Eddie on guitar). The song was used for the movie soundtrack Twister and plays during the end credits of the movie.
A long-time Paiste endorser since March 1983, Alex in co-operation with Paiste developed his signature ride which is a 2002 24" Big ride and was introduced on the 2010 Winter NAMM Show.
Alex's influences included John Bonham, Ginger Baker, Buddy Rich and Keith Moon.
Alex married Valeri Kendall in June 1983, after a two-year engagement. The marriage ended in divorce, just two months later.
Alex has one son, Aric Van Halen (born October 6, 1989), with his ex-wife, Kelly Danniels, whom he divorced in August 1996 after 12 years of marriage.
Alex married his current wife, Stine Schyberg, in 2000. She is the mother of his son Malcolm Van Halen. Alex is the uncle of Wolfgang Van Halen.
Alex has become an ordained minister and presided at the weddings of his brother Eddie Van Halen in 2009 and his former sister-in-law Valerie Bertinelli in 2011.
Alex has a reputation as a practical joker. He's been know to nail your shoes to the floor if they're ever left unattended, and has put flame to old tires from time to time!
Alex will be the first to tell you he's not a rock star. He's a musician. He'll be making music until the day he dies, in one form or another.