Van Halen at 50

This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Buy on Amazon Buy on
*This page contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you.
Send NetGalley books directly to your Kindle or Kindle app

To read on a Kindle or Kindle app, please add as an approved email address to receive files in your Amazon account. Click here for step-by-step instructions.
Also find your Kindle email address within your Amazon account, and enter it here.
Pub Date 28 May 2024 | Archive Date 18 Apr 2024

Talking about this book? Use #VanHalenat50 #NetGalley. More hashtag tips!


Explore the extraordinary history of Van Halen through the groundbreaking band’s 50 most important moments, brought to vivid life with photos and memorabilia.

Formed in Southern California in 1974, Van Halen became one of the best-selling bands in rock history and one of the highest-grossing tour acts with their rock-solid rhythm section, the histrionics of outrageous frontman David Lee Roth, and the wildly inventive and until-then unimaginable guitar heroics of Eddie Van Halen. In Van Halen at 50, prolific rock journalist Martin Popoff pays tribute to the band on the occasion of their 50th anniversary by curating 50 significant milestones, from their formation in 1974 to the passing of Eddie Van Halen in 2020. This volume features:
  • Stunning concert and candid offstage photography
  • Images of memorabilia, including gig posters, vinyl record sleeves, ticket stubs, period ads, and more
  • Gatefold Van Halen timeline

Across five decades, Popoff covers it all:
  • The band’s formation in Pasadena, California, and early years as a So-Cal party band
  • 13 best-selling studio albums and the tours undertaken in support of the LPs
  • The departure of Roth and his replacement by “The Red Rocker” Sammy Hagar
  • Notable appearances like Texxas Jam, Farm Aid, and Monsters of Rock
  • A selection of their greatest singles, like the classic-rock standards “Runnin’ with the Devil,” “Hot for Teacher,” “Jump,” and “Why Can’t This Be Love?”
  • Awards such as MTV Music Video Awards, platinum and diamond album certifications, and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
  • Eddie Van Halen’s battle with cancer
  • Bassist Michael Anthony’s replacement by Eddie’s son, Wolfgang

In addition, Popoff includes a selection of sidebars covering specialized topics like Eddie’s finger-tapping technique, the band’s album art, and the eternal Dave vs. Sammy question. Every page is illustrated with incredible images, including on- and off-stage photography, gig posters, 7-inch picture sleeves, ticket stubs, and more. The result is an apt tribute to one of the most popular bands in rock history.
Explore the extraordinary history of Van Halen through the groundbreaking band’s 50 most important moments, brought to vivid life with photos and memorabilia.

Formed in Southern California in 1974...

Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9780760386446
PRICE US$40.00 (USD)

Available on NetGalley

NetGalley Shelf App (PDF)
Download (PDF)

Average rating from 17 members

Featured Reviews

This was such a cool retrospective to one of the most famous bands of all time. My parents grew up with them and how iconic they were. I know musical fans will devour this one.

Was this review helpful?

Full disclosure, I am GenX and as such, Van Halen were in their heyday when I was growing up. However, as much as I collected the music of Van Halen, my teenage adoration was directed toward the other well know band whose lead singer also came from Indiana (and who, to this day, I will still say epitomised the late 80s, early 90s for me)

I digress. Van Halen was one of those band s that everybody knew their music, everybody knew who they were and everybody would get up and rock out when Van Halen came on the radio. Ahhh, good times. Likewise, were the publications, Kerrang and Metal Hammer for one and this book reminds mw of the layouts of the same, giving me that warm feeling of nostalgia

However, a really good thing oubout "Van Halen at 50" is that it takes us on a journey from Van Halens inception to almst the present day, full of stories, discography, live tours and the good, the bad and the downright ugly events that personify the bands tumultuous relationships with each other

A fantastic read for all ages, music lovers, and lovers of 20th centrury history , of which, Van Halen and their music were a musical icon

Thank you to Netgalley, Quarto Publishing Group – Motorbooks, Motorbooks and the author Martin Popoff for this awesome ARC. My review is left voluntarily and all opinions are my own

Was this review helpful?

Complete guide to Van Halen! Amazing photos. Everything you could ever want to know about Van Halen. A must for any fan!

Was this review helpful?

Excellent book! As a huge Van Halen fan, this book was very enjoyable to me. Very informative, respectful, and well written. I’d recommend to any fan of Van Halen or rock music in general.

Was this review helpful?

When I was about 15, my friend who hooked me up with a tape of a new band. I sure hadn't heard of them before but Wow! They were amazing. The guitar was fresh, like nothing I'd ever heard before. I knew. I played guitar. So this group knocked me back! Over the years my tastes would change, but I always loved Van Halen.

This gorgeous book from Martin Popoff isn't your Mom and Dad's coffee table book. This has some teeth in it. With some serious history lessons in all things Van Halen, from their club gigs to the disputes with Diamond Dave, The Red Rocker, Sammy Hagar and into the blip of Gary, this explores aspects even seasoned fans may not have known. Did you know Dave appeared on the Letterman show with his nose bandaged not because Alex slugged him finally but because he dropped a mic stand on his nose. Learn about the stories behind the Monsters of Rock tour, Sammy's tequila , rum, cocktails. The how and why Dimebag ended up with the exact guitar Eddie gave to Rita to put in his coffin. Eddie's wedding day! Wolfgang in the band.

I definitely would want to get my hands on the hardback edition of this. Seeing this on your screen is one thing. Seeing it and holding it is another.

The one line I found odd was about 'those in the axe position, you hear about Jimi Hendrix and Eddie Van Halen and really no one else. I think Eric Clapton said it best when he would get asked what it's like being the best guitarist in the world:

"I don't know. Go ask Prince."

King Edward certainly earned his right to glory. His son is creating quite a name for himself as a virtuoso. There are other guitarists but I won't name them here. This book is Van Halen country.

I'll leave you, dear reader, with a quote from a conservative Christian woman in the 80s who happened to catch a sober David Lee Roth with a tan hat and army green button down shirt on doing an interview:

"Well, sure, he has long hair but he's brushed it and he's put himself together nicely in the latest fashion and speaks clearly. He seems reasonable." ~ my Mom

Was this review helpful?

What a wonderful retrospectives of one of my favorite bands from the 70’s and 80’s. Loved all of the stories and references to favorite songs.

Was this review helpful?

Van Halen is one of mine and my husbands favorite bands. We are children of the 70s and 80s and have listened to the band throughout all of their changes. This book is awesome! The pictures, the stories, the album covers, and the pictures of the memorabilia, I loved it all. This is a book that you just NEED a physical copy of. It will be a beautiful coffee table/collectors item book. l will be purchasing one for my husband. He will love it! Great job on this!

Was this review helpful?

As a teen in the 1980's, this was a walk down memory lane. I thought I was pretty knowledeable about the history of the band, but I learned early into the book that I'm not! I didn't know that Gene and Paul of Kiss fame had discovered the band! The book is a mixture of history of the band from its early days and the many changes throughout the years along with a lot of great pictures. Many of the pictures I recall seeing from those early years, but there were plenty of new ones to enjoy.
As far as the David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar debate, I would have to say that I lean more on the side of Sammy since he the lead singer my high school and college years. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a few of the early Dave hits!
I think this book would be a hit for any music lover, but maybe more so for those of us who grew up listening to the band. Thank you to Quarto Publishing Group - Motorbooks, NetGalley, and Mr. Popoff for allowing me to read the Arc. I would love to see sit it in all it's glory in print when it is released in May 2024.

Was this review helpful?

Martin Popoff is a prolific music journalist and critic whose specialty is heavy metal. He has written thousands of album reviews over the years and has written over 20 books all about heavy metal, including books that focus on bands like Blue Oyster Cult, UFO, Rainbow, Dio, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Deep Purple, Whitesnake, Nazareth, Thin Lizzy, Uriah Heep, The Cure, Yes, AC/DC, Rush, Iron Maiden, The Who, Kiss, Led Zeppelin, and more! That’s a lot of my music taste in a nutshell. So I have some high expectations for this book.

We’ll be looking at his latest book, Van Halen at 50, a coffee table retrospective book that delves into the legendary hard rock band’s journey with 50 stories spanning half a century of music. Like I’ve said before in the Bruce Springsteen book review, this type of book is one of my favourite types of classic rock books to read because I’m a visual person and I love seeing the photos of the band and I’m a sucker for books with really engaging, colourful, on brand layouts. The layout of it is pretty similar to the Bruce Springsteen book with the book being divided into different sections that represent different eras and there being 50 stories representing the 50th anniversary of the band.

The book is a comprehensive read about the history of Van Halen from their beginnings in California to their initial success with their 1978 self-titled debut album to the sophomore slump and rise back again to the top with 1984 to the Sammy Hagar years to the band getting recognised as rock legends by being inducted into the Rock Hall and going on reunion tours. You can expect stories about each of the different albums, various concert tours and festivals they played, as well as sidebar segments on Eddie Van Halen's tapping guitar technique, sound effects used on their albums like car horns and revving car engines, Eddie Van Halen's contributions on keyboard, a look at David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar's solo careers, and a ranking of the album cover designs from over the years. As well as the book being packed full of visuals and facts, there are lots of opinions and analysis throughout of the music.

I did notice one mistake in the book saying that Wolfgang Van Halen was 19 when his father, Eddie Van Halen died, but he was actually 29, but overall I learnt a lot from the book and it has a lot of great information about the band.

Overall, I think it's a worthwhile read for Van Halen fans and those who like hard rock, especially ones who like coffeetable books full of pictures.

Was this review helpful?

Note: Thank you to NetGalley, Motorbooks, and Martin Popoff for the advanced reader copy of the book.  What follows is my unbiased review of the book.

Van Halen was as much a part of my younger days as just about any musical act. Granted, I was only eight when they first formed, but throughout my musical journey, they were the antithesis of what I was hearing on WLIR, the “new music” station. As much as that music shaped my life, so did the raw exuberance of Van Halen, particularly Eddie’s guitar work.

Martin Popoff is a well-known music journalist. The 50th anniversary of the formation of Van Halen is 2024, Popoff takes a look back and chooses 50 moments in the history of the band that were pivotal. The result is a book that would have been described as a “coffee table book” back in my parents’ day. The idea was, that you left books like these on the coffee table when company came over to impress them. I’m not sure that happens all that much in the current day, but for fans of the band, this retrospective demands to be out on your coffee table.

Popoff covers it all, and pretty much sequentially, starting with the formation of the band and how singer David Lee Roth was kind of an ill-fit from the start. The Van Halen brothers (particularly Eddie) might not have been easy to get along with, and Popoff acknowledges some of Eddie’s questionable decisions over the years, but adding Roth as the lead singer was more in deference to management and the record company than anything else. The Sammy Hagar is covered as well, along with the information that Hagar was considered before Roth was added in the first place.

The pictures are just gorgeous, reprinted in beautiful form from the early days on. Some of the shots I could look at and say “I remember seeing that or something close to it.” As I said, the band’s fans will get the most from this. Popoff covers the making of the albums and gives them reviews throughout the book, as well as getting into the technical side of recording without getting too detailed. You don’t have to have a lot of technical musical knowledge to appreciate what he talks about here.

The clashes within the band are discussed, although not with the details that were given elsewhere. I’m thinking about Sammy Hagar’s book Red which gives more information on the fractures in the band during his tenure. However, Popoff isn’t burying this either. The result is an honest look at the band for those who can definitely appreciate it.

This is a book for collectors and fans of the group. It’s beautifully presented with plenty of information, and sidebars covering details Popoff doesn’t get to in his 50 moments in the history of the band. There’s so much here to enjoy and appreciate, and the cover would look good on your table.

Was this review helpful?

Readers who liked this book also liked: