Forget great white sharks. If you ever find yourself in the vicinity of any current or former members of Van Halen - Beware. You could be a victim of a vicious attack.

Rolling Stone writer David Wild was a recent guest on a podcast called “Rock Solid” with Pat Francis. In it, Wild reveals an encounter with David Lee Roth at the Billboard Awards on May 17th in Las Vegas. This encounter was not a friendly one, however. In fact, Wild is asking for an apology from Roth.

What actually went down that night? According to Wild, it all has to do with the 2004 release of Van Halen’s best of compilation called “Best Of Both Worlds” and the liner notes Wild wrote. I uploaded the segment onto YouTube (above) so you can hear all of Wild's story.

For those of you who are now curious as to what was in those liner notes that got Roth so angry I transcribed the notes word for word so you can read all of it. After completing this task I realized I definitely need to hire a stenographer.

A Fan’s Notes

Right now a 14-year old kid in a basement somewhere is listening to Eddie Van Halen play “Eruption”, thinking, How the hell does he do that?

Right now that kid’s dad is upstairs in the living room begging that kid’s mom for the credit card so he can buy Van Halen concert tickets.

Right now Mom’s saying, “OK”, because she’s secretly loved Van Halen since she first made out to “Dance The Night Away” during her high school prom.

Right now all of them – and all of us with any taste and disposable income – can finally have the best of Van Halen all gathered in one dingy and smoky place.

Right here.

The Best Of Both Worlds chronicles one of the greatest – and loudest – rock’n’roll stories ever told. Surviving the demanding test of time, Van Halen’s music continues to endure with transcendent grace and undeniable force.

In short, they really rock.

Revolutionary yet instantly accessible, Van Halen are a true musical powerhouse that forever changed the way that rock music’s played. From the beginning, they raised the wah-wah bar forever in terms of sonic ambition and raging full-throttle musicianship. This is one of the groups that changed the rules of the game, and then kept on winning. They took the energy and craft of great British rock bands like The Kinks, The Who, and Cream and transported them into their own distinctly American hyperspace. In particular, in Eddie’s virtuoso hands, the electric guitar took its single most startling leap forward since Jimi Hendrix turned the world onto a whole new Experience.

But Eddie didn’t do it alone.

Together the members of Van Halen have made rock history, and the music collected here shows exactly how they’ve done it. These songs – not the celebrity, not the controversy, not the adorable grins in the videos – are what ultimately set Van Halen apart from the rock ‘n’ roll pack. And now, with the long-awaited release of three powerful new songs here – “It’s About Time”, “Up For Breakfast”, and “Learning To See”, all featuring the returning and resounding Wham of Sam – The Best Of Both Worlds brings the band’s proud and pounding legacy alive and well here into the 21st century.

And as the band hits the road in the summer of 2004, the story isn’t over yet.

In the beginning, Van Halen was a band of brothers.

In 1967 Alex and Eddie Van Halen were two Dutch boys, sons of a musician dad who took his wife and kids across the ocean in search of better gigs and a better life. Somehow, the brothers Van Halen – a 14-year old Alex and 12-year old Eddie – ended up settling with their folks in Pasadena, California. Initially Alex played guitar and Eddie drums, but before long the brothers switched position. As teenagers they started making a big noise in a band they called Mammoth. That group auditioned one David Lee Roth, a flamboyant lead singer, Michael Anthony, a lead singer in his own right for a slippery combo called Snake, signed up to play bass beside Alex, an eternally polyrhythmic force of nature. Before long it was exceedingly loud and cledar that this was more than just some Pasadena super group. The band became local heroes, and after learning that the Mammoth name was already taken, they became known simply as Van Halen, after a dangerously close brush with actually calling themselves Rat Salade.

The cradle was ready to rock.

One would be hard pressed to imagine a more riveting musical introduction than 1978’s Van Halen. If “Eruption” is still startling, band then it was utterly mind-melting, a vivid showcase for Eddie’s self-taught, hammer-on, tapping technique that has been much imitated over time but never topped. Van Halen’s take on The Kinks’ classic “You Really Got Me” drove one of rock’s most explosive anthems into the stratosphere. There was much more where that came from, including sultry FM classics like “Jamie’s Cryin’” and the positively demonic rocker “Runnin’ With The Devil,’ which captured the band’s compelling mix of beauty and danger.

Van Halen "Best Of Both Worlds' 2004
Van Halen "Best Of Both Worlds' 2004

With the world now anxious for another dose, Van Halen wasted little time in turning around 1979’s Van Halen II, a hit sequel that spawned the group’s first Top 20 smash, the wildly infectious “Dance The Night Away” as well as the appropriately sexy “Beautiful Girls.” By now the band was a tremendous live attraction, and standout tracks on 1980’s Women And Children First like “And The Cradle Will Rock…” and “Everybody Wants Some!!” show why, Van Halen broke ground, somehow being funny, smart, and brutally tough at the same time. If anything, 1981’s Fair Warning was even darker, as “Unchained” shows to fine effect.

The mood lightened measurably for 1982’s Diver Down. With Van Halen now releasing albums at a furious pace – as well as hitting the road hard and often – the exhausted band pulled out a set unusually heavy with covers, including memorable, VH-injected takes on Roy Orbison’s “(Oh) Pretty Woman” and Martha & The Vendallas’ “Dancing In The Street.”

Released on New Year’s Day, MCMLXXXIV [1984] saw Van Halen pushing themselves in a number of fresh musical directions and becoming full-blown international, MTV-era superstars in the process, thanks to undeniable gems like “Jump”, a synth-driven beauty that led the way for a run of hits, including “Panama”, “I’ll Wait,” and the hilarious “Hot For Teacher.”

Exit Roth. Enter Sammy Hagar. What happened? In any case, Van Halen’s musical power trio offered the lead singer gig to Sammy Hagar, who’d already fronted one of Eddie’s favorite bands, Montrose. Sammy, with a string of five platinum albums and SRO concert tours, quickly and resoundingly silenced any doubters that Van Halen could turn the Great Lead Singer Switch when 1986’s 5150 kept the band’s momentum going in a major way and brought something new to the VH party.

Sammy fit right in, and the instant goodwill suddenly evident in the ranks suggested that they’d managed to replace one of rock’s great showmen with a remarkable singer who worked and played better with others – a true partner in rock ‘n’ roll crime. The chemistry was evidenced by hits like “Why Can’t This Be Love” and “Best Of Both Worlds.” And right from his successful introduction, Hagar’s considerable vocal chops allowed the band to explore new textures on tracks such as the soaring “Dreams” and the unabashedly romantic “Love Walks In.”

Over any hurdle others might have imagined, Van Halen continued their huge musical winning streak with 1988’s OU812, featuring the grand and glorious “When It’s Love” and the inspired Swamp Rock of “Finish What Ya Started,” as well as the radiant “Feels So Good” and tougher-minded “Black And Blue.” This was arguably the most diverse and accomplished album the band ever made.

Then, in 1991, The Year Grunge Hit, For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge offered farm more than just another sly and/or dirty album title. The ballsy set ranged from the inspired, piano-driven drama of “Right Now” to the impressively aggressive “Poundcake,” as well as classic Van Halen charmers like “Runaround” and “Top Of The World.”

Once again, Van Halen was at the top of the world. Yet after documenting the band’s onstage power on 1993’s Live: Right here, right now., internal tensions began to emerge, and despite numerous highlights, including the lovely “Can’t Stop Lovin’ You” and the soul-searching “Not Enough,” 1995’s Balance was made by a band slightly out of balance.

Exit Hagar. Enter, well, confusion.

But that’s all over now, as the new songs featured here prove with power. With its hilariously over-the-top lyrics about fun and sex, “Up For Breakfast” will make you hungry and horny and make you laugh too. “Learning To See” is more serious stuff, a real statement of purpose. And then there’s the first single – the very fitting and, yes, timely “It’s About Time,” a stirring new song that makes up for lost time with a vengeance.

Listen closely, and you can hear the sound of a real great leap forward.

The Best Of Both Worlds…right now.

- David Wild

NOTE: A special thanks to Steve Herold a.k.a. "Hide Your Sheep" for originally posting this story online at the Van Halen fan forum vhlinks.

You can listen to Eric Senich live on Saturdays from 10am to 3pm on 95.1 FM. You can also listen online by clicking here or by downloading the radioPup app for your mobile device.

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