Alex Van Halen

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
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 60)
Nijmegen, Netherlands
Genres Hard rock, heavy metal
Instruments Drums, percussion, vocals, guitar, keyboards, piano, saxophone
Years active 1962–present
Labels Warner Bros.
Associated acts Van Halen
Notable instruments
Ludwig drums, Paiste cymbals

Alexander Arthur "Alex" 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.

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 Amsterdam.[1] His Dutch father Jan (1920–1986) was an accomplished jazz saxophonist and clarinet player. His mother Eugenia (1914–2005) was an Indo (Eurasian) from Indonesia.[2] He spent his childhood in Nijmegen in the east of the country.[3] The family moved to Pasadena, California in 1962.[2]

Both Alex and Eddie Van Halen were trained as classical pianists in their childhood.[4] Although Alex is known as a professional drummer, he began his musical aspirations as a guitarist, with his brother Eddie taking up drums.[2] 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.[3] Alex was influenced by Budgie drummer, Ray Phillips.[5]

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.[6]

In 1971, Alex graduated from Pasadena High School in California.[3] He then took classes in music theory, scoring, composition and arranging at Pasadena City College for a short while.[3] 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.[7]

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.[3]

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.[8] 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.[9]

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)[10] 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 include John Bonham, Ginger Baker and Keith Moon and he has cited jazz drummer Buddy Rich's work as having an early and lifelong impact.[11]

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 has two sons, Aric Van Halen (born October 6, 1989), with his ex-wife, Kelly Carter, 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.[12]

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.


External links[edit]