Alex Van Halen

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Alex Van Halen
Alex Van Halen - Van Halen Live.jpg
Background information
Birth name Alexander Arthur Van Halen
Born (1953-05-08) May 8, 1953 (age 61)
Nijmegen, Netherlands
Origin Pasadena, California, U.S
Genres Hard rock, heavy metal
Instruments Drums, percussion, vocals, guitar, keyboards, piano, saxophone, Rototoms, electronic drums
Years active 1962–present
Labels Warner Bros.
Associated acts Van Halen
Notable instruments
Ludwig drums, Paiste cymbals

Alexander Arthur Van Halen (born May 8, 1953) 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.[1]

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.

Early life[edit]

Alex Van Halen was born in Nijmegen.[2] His Dutch father Jan (1920–1986) was an accomplished jazz saxophonist and clarinet player. His mother Eugenia (1914–2005) was an Indo (Eurasian) from Rangkasbitung, Indonesia.[3] He spent his childhood in Nijmegen in the east of the country.[4] The family moved to Pasadena, California in 1962.[3]

Both Alex and Eddie Van Halen were trained as classical pianists in their childhood.[5] Although Alex is known as a professional drummer, he began his musical aspirations as a guitarist, with his brother Eddie taking up drums.[3] 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 learn to play the electric guitar.[4] Alex was influenced by Budgie drummer, Ray Phillips.[6]

Alex, Eddie and three other boys formed their first band when they were in the fourth grade, calling themselves The Broken Combs; they performed at lunchtime at Hamilton Elementary School in Pasadena.[7]

In 1971, Alex graduated from Pasadena High School in California.[4] He then took classes in music theory, scoring, composition and arranging at Pasadena City College for a short while.[4] 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.[8]

Musical career[edit]

Alex had several early bands with Eddie before Van Halen came to be. Names of these previous bands include The Broken Combs, The Space Brothers & Mammoth Chammoth.[4]

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.[9] 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, Al 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.[10]

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)[11] 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.


Alex endorses Ludwig drums, pedals & hardware, Paiste cymbals, Remo drumheads and Regaltip drumsticks. 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. He also had two Ludwig signature snares and endorses Regaltip drumsticks. Alex has used Rototoms and octobans in the past as well as electronic drums and is renowned for using extravagantly-sized drum kits that feature four bass drums, having originally used two bass drums before upgrading to four bass drums.

Regaltip created the Alex Van Halen signature drumsticks when he became an endorser. However, despite being a long time user of Regaltip, Alex has also tried using Easton Ahead drumsticks.


Alex's main influences include Ginger Baker, Keith Moon and John Bonham, and he has cited jazz drummer Buddy Rich's work as having an early and lifelong impact.[12]

Personal life[edit]

Alex married Valeri Kendall in June 1983, after a two-year engagement. The marriage ended in divorce, just two months later. Alex's first of two sons, Aric Van Halen, was born October 6, 1989; Aric's mother was Alex's ex-wife, Kelly Carter, whom he divorced in August 1996 after 13 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.[13]

Alex has become an ordained minister and presided at the wedding of his brother Eddie Van Halen in 2009. [14]


  1. ^ Wurster, Jon (June 2012). "Alex Van Halen: Of Sound and Vision". Modern Drummer 36 (6): 52–53. 
  2. ^ "Van Halen Biographies". 
  3. ^ a b c "Alexander Van Halen". Retrieved November 1, 2008. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "Drummerworld: Alex van halen". Retrieved December 1, 2008. 
  5. ^ "Alex Van Halen at DrumSoloArtist". Retrieved January 13, 2008. 
  6. ^ "BLABBERMOUTH.NET - Founding BUDGIE Member RAY PHILLIPS Working On Solo Debut". Retrieved October 14, 2009. 
  7. ^ Van Halen 2012 Interview on YouTube
  8. ^ "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame". Retrieved January 18, 2008. 
  9. ^ McCully, Jerry. "The Early Years of Van Halen: A Paper Route, a High School Essay, and a Couple of Lucky Breaks". 
  10. ^ "Alex Van Halen at". Retrieved March 22, 2008. 
  11. ^ 1997 "Grammy Nominations from Rock on the Net". 
  12. ^ "Alex Van Halen: Bashing and Crashing In the Here and Now". Retrieved 2014-07-16. 
  13. ^ Alex Van Halen - Biography
  14. ^ Kreps, Daniel (29 June 2009). ""Eddie Van Halen, Janie Liszewski Married in California"". Rolling Stone (San Francisco: Straight Arrow Publishers, Inc.). Retrieved July 6, 2014. 

External links[edit]