10 Crazy Tales From the New Van Halen Book ‘Runnin’ With the Devil’
The golden age of Van Halen with David Lee Roth at the helm has never really been dished on, unless you count the singer’s own somewhat scattershot 1997 autobiography, Crazy From the Heat. That all changes with the release of Runnin’ With the Devil: A Backstage Pass Into the Wild Times, Loud Rock and the Down and Dirty Truth Behind the Making of Van Halen. Penned by Noel E. Monk, who was the tour manager for the band beginning in 1978 and became their manager the following year until early 1985, the memoir provides his personal insight and account of the inner workings of the Van Halen machine. The book features a trove of firsthand accounts of incidents, anecdotes and details about the band even the most hardcore fan probably isn’t aware of. We’ve compiled 10 of the craziest tales we found in the book, but be warned: There are spoilers.
For years, the story went that designer Dave Bhang drew the iconic winged Van Halen logo. He may have, but according to Monk it was appropriated almost exactly from a poster of Jimi Hendrix — the guitarist to whom Eddie Van Halen would be most compared in the early days. To get back at original manager Marshall Berle for using the band’s funds in ways that were interpreted as deceitful, the group allegedly ransacked his office, taking anything that wasn’t bolted down. Monk ended up with a box of leftover items that he forgot about after tossing into the back of a closet. A couple years later, he came across it and, upon closer inspection, found the Hendrix poster replete with a logo that Monk says is “nearly identical” to the now instantly recognizable Van Halen emblem.
David Lee Roth may never have had second thoughts about launching himself off the drum riser for one of his soaring, patented toe-touching splits, but according to the band’s former road manager getting him above the clouds was another story altogether. The high-flying singer didn’t like air travel. Monk describes it as “a near-crippling fear of flying,” which he attributed to the singer being a control freak who couldn’t deal with having none over the circumstances.
Touring as the support act for openers Montrose and headliners Journey in 1978, Van Halen had ample time to get the party started after their set. Yet one time when Monk went back, he says he found the backstage area and its inhabitants dead silent. He then noticed what looked like a long splash of green paint on a full-length mirror in the dressing room. Upon further inspection, the “paint” turned out to be guacamole — a bowl of which was thrown at David Lee Roth by Eddie Van Halen in retaliation for the singer hurling a bowl of peanuts at the guitarist. But he missed and nailed Steve Perry instead. Monk found the Journey singer in the bathroom softly crying to himself and helped him get cleaned up for the show, likening the incident to “heartless mean children” picking on a kid in the middle-school cafeteria.
You Really Got Me Fingers
And the Cradle Will Rock …
Loss of Control
Take Your Whiskey Home
Eddie and Alex Van Halen’s father is known to fans for his appearance on the Diver Down song “Big Bad Bill (Is Sweet William Now),” on which he played clarinet. On a more personal note, Monk says the way Dad bonded with his sons was to get drunk with them. “I’m not talking about a father sharing a beer with a couple of grown children of legal drinking age,” he writes. “I’m talking about a guy getting s— faced with his teenage boys in the hope that the camaraderie of drinking would encourage honesty and transparency in their relationship.”
Somebody Said “Payola!”
Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love