Years of jumping around on stage took it's toll on Eddie. He had hip-replacement surgery in 1999. He also had cancer in his throat and tongue, which caused him to lose part of his tongue.
On their 1979 tour, David Lee Roth gave each of the crew members 5 backstage passes, which they were supposed to give to beautiful women. If Roth shacked up with one of the babes, he gave the roadie that got her in $100 the next day.
Eddie and Alex were born and raised in Holland. Their family moved to Pasadena, California in 1967, when Eddie was 10 and Alex was 12.
Eddie took piano lessons throughout his youth. He credits his understanding of classical music for his ability to write songs.
Eddie and Alex' father, Jan Van Halen, was a professional clarinet player.
Their original name was Mammoth. They changed it after finding out another band had it first. It was Roth's idea to use the name Van Halen, Eddie and Alex didn't like it.
Roth was in a band called Redball Jet when he met Eddie and Alex. Michael Anthony met Alex at Pasadena City College.
Eddie has serious stage fright, and the only way he could perform early on was by having some drinks beforehand, which is something his dad suggested. He quickly became a very high-functioning alcoholic, but his drinking had a profound effect on his health, his personal relationships, and the band. He credits his wife Janie Liszewski, who he met in 2006, with getting him sober, which he finally did around 2009. For most of 2008, Eddie sat around the house watching television and weaning himself off of alcohol.
In 1977, Gene Simmons saw them in concert and set up their first recording session. He flew them to New York and bought them new clothes, but the resulting demo still didn't get them a record deal. The record companies were reluctant to sign them because Disco was in and Rock was out.
On most of the songs, the music was written by Eddie and the lyrics by Roth or Hagar. The band shares songwriting credit, however, meaning that royalties are split equally regardless of who contributes.
Roth was hyperactive as a child and became a very high-energy adult. His demand for attention helped the band in the sense that it kept Eddie from having to do interviews or stage moves. Roth did all the talking.
Eddie married actress Valerie Bertinelli on April 11, 1981. They met the year before when she brought her brother, who was a huge Van Halen fan, backstage at a show in Shreveport, Louisiana. In 1991 they had a son named Wolfgang. Eddie and Valerie separated in 2001 and divorced in 2005. (thanks, Lee - Phoenix, AZ)
Eddie is constantly working on his guitars. He takes them apart and pieces them together until he gets them just right.
They had a provision in their contract demanding M&Ms backstage with the brown ones removed. This was a way of seeing if the promoters read the contract. If they saw brown M&Ms, they knew there would be problems with the show.
In 2004, David Lee Roth turned his back on music and trained to be a paramedic. The same year, the band reunited with Hagar. (thanks, Tom - Trowbridge, England)
Eddie started out as a drummer. Alex had a guitar, but while Eddie was out on his paper route (that he had to pay for his drums), Alex would play his drums. Eddie said "Fine, play my drums, I'll play your guitar!" (thanks, Pat - Babylon, NY)
Michael Anthony makes hot sauce. It's called Mad Anthony's Hot Sauce. (thanks, Mike - Toms River, NJ)
When Van Halen first appeared, there was a rumor that the group were actually members of KISS without their make-up and attire. If you take a close look at early pics of them, David Lee Roth resembled Paul Stanley, Eddie Van Halen resembled Ace Frehley, and Michael Anthony resembled Gene Simmons. This rumor may had been fueled by Gene Simmons' discovery of the group, and the fact that Van Halen had appeared right around the time KISS had taken a break from the recording studio in 1977. The rumor was soon quelled when the individual members of KISS released their "solo" albums in 1978 around the same time Van Halen II was released, and people began to really notice the height differential between Alex Van Halen and Peter Criss. (thanks, Randy - Colerain Twp., OH)
Anthony's real last name is Sobolewski.
Van Halen reunited in 2007 with David Lee Roth joining Eddie and Alex, along with Eddie's son Wolfgang on bass. Sammy Hagar and Mike Anthony weren't invited to join them on tour, but they were the band's sole representatives at Van Halen's Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction that year. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
Van Halen's 2008 tour rider contains a demand for a study room for bassist Wolfgang Van Halen, who was 16 then, and his tutor. David Lee Roth's dressing room was demanded with no floor covering to allow Mr. Roth to practice martial arts in his dressing room.
In the early days, Eddie played his solos with his back to the audience so that other guitar players could not steal his moves, and also because of his stage freight.