Van Halen In Photos 1979-1982

by Greg Prato

As a heavy metal-loving pre-teen and teen during the '80s, whenever I would purchase a new copy of Circus, Hit Parader, or Faces magazine, I would consistently see a photographer credit attached to the eye-popping pix included on the covers and within: Mark Weiss. Name a major hard rock or metal band from that era, and Mr. Weiss is undoubtedly responsible for some of their best-known photos: Ozzy, Mötley Crüe, Bon Jovi, Kiss... the list goes on.

So, it only makes sense that Weiss has compiled his best photos into a must-see book, The Decade That Rocked: The Photography of Mark "Weissguy" Weiss, which perfectly captures this seemingly bygone party-hearty era. Here, Weiss gives us a look at some of his Van Halen photos and tells the stories behind them.
David Lee Roth doing his famous spread eagle in 1980

One of my first assignments for Circus was in 1979 at Asbury Park to shoot Van Halen. They were a relatively new band at the time and they just released Van Halen II. They played at Convention Hall, and I went down to just shoot live photos. I only had a photo pass so I went to the soundboard, saw [their tour manager/eventual manager] Noel Monk at the board, and said, "I'm Mark Weiss, I work for Circus magazine. Do you think you can take me backstage to take some photos of the band?"

He brought me backstage, introduced me, and then Eddie was hanging around there, so I took a picture of him smiling – that photo is in the book. I began developing a relationship with them.

Eddie Van Halen at Convention Hall, New Jersey. He knows the importance of comfortable shoes.

The World Invasion Tour in 1980 was the next Van Halen show I shot for Circus. A year later, I got an assignment from Us Magazine to spend the day with them, shooting photos at soundcheck as well as some backstage and a photo shoot, too. I got more access because Us was a more mainstream magazine and the band wanted to cross over into a wider market. I really got to know the guys that day.

David Lee Roth with cigarette and kite

The photo of David and the kite, they hired me on their next tour for a few days – during the Hide Your Sheep Tour. The management told me, "Whatever and whenever the guys want you to shoot, you do!" So, David called me up in the morning the day of the show and said, "Come on out, I want you to take a picture of me outside." I go outside, and he's flying a kite. So I started taking pictures of him flying a kite while he was smoking a cigarette. And then the kite got caught in the tree. I think he did it on purpose because then he was trying to climb the tree and get the kite out, always making sure I was taking photos!

1982: Eddie Van Halen, David Lee Roth, Alex Van Halen, Michael Anthony

David was always a ham – he loved the camera and the camera loved him, and he knew it was important to get good photographs for the different magazines. The other guys I would have to knock on the door and say, "Hey, how about a picture?" And half the time they'd be busy. I got photos of those guys backstage, but David was the best.

May 26, 2020
Get The Decade That Rocked: The Photography of Mark "Weissguy" Weiss at thedecadethatrocked.com

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