Arthur Van Halen was born to Jan and Eugenia van
Halen in Amsterdam, The Netherlands on May 8,
February 22, 1962, the Van Halen family left
Holland for California at the "request"
of several relatives.
musical interest began with flamenco guitar
lessons as a grade schooler. Brother Edward was
working hard delivering papers to pay for his drum
kit. As fate would have it, Alex began
playing Ed's kit and in return, Edward took over
on Al's guitar. Both brothers had also been
trained as classical pianists.
graduated from Pasadena High School in 1971 and
attended Pasadena City College for a brief period
of time, where some of his classes included music
theory and scoring and arranging.
Ed and Al formed a number of bands, of which they
were both included. These were The Broken
Combs (w/ Alex on sax!), The Trojan Rubber
Company, Genesis, and The Space Brothers.
influences included John Bonham, Ginger Baker,
Buddy Rich and Keith Moon.
1972, Mammoth--the earliest roots of what we know
Van Halen to be today--was formed featuring Alex
on drums, Edward on lead vocals and guitar and
Mark Stone on bass. In 1974, Mammoth changed their
name to Van Halen and Stone had been replaced by
Michael Anthony and David Lee Roth became the new
lead singer. Van Halen played the LA club circuit
(the first club to give them a break), the Starwood,
a GoGo, and Walter
Mitty's Rock & Roll Emporium. Al
often handled managerial duties and later was in
charge of cover art on each album.
before the band was signed to Warner Bros. Records
in 1977, Alex nearly lost a finger in a machine
powerful and dynamic drumming style and voice are
as unique and instantly recognizable as Edward's
guitar sound. The term "brown sound,"
which is universally linked with Edward's tone was
actually coined by Alex and refers to the warmth
of his own snare drum sound. But, don't overlook
the finesse and sensitivity. He plays what's right
for the song. Not to grandstand or just to draw
attention to himself. He will however, let loose
live in his unaccompanied drum solo. In this
instance you've got to expect the unexpected. From
lighting his kit on fire during the Van
Halen II tour, to the Latinesque version of
Love Again," complete with congas and
horns on the III
tour, you're always in for a treat.
the Wind" from the Twister
soundtrack features Alex on keyboard and is his
first and only appearance on an album outside of
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!
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.