Alexander Arthur "Alex" Van Halen


1972- Van Halen - drums, percussion (as Alex Van Halen)  

Personal information

Born on: 08.05.1953

Alexander Arthur "Alex" Van Halen (born May 8, 1953) is a Dutch born Californian musician, best known as the drummer and co-founder of the 70s 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

Alex Van Halen was born in Amsterdam. His Dutch father Jan (b. 1920) was an accomplished saxophonist and clarinet player. His mother Eugenia (b. 1914) is an Indo (Eurasian) from Indonesia. He spent his childhood in Nijmegen in the east of the country. The family moved to Pasadena, California, USA, in 1962.

Both Alex and Eddie Van Halen were trained as classical pianists in their childhood. Although Alex is known as a professional drummer, he began his musical aspirations as a guitarist, with his brother Eddie taking up drums. 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 begin learning to play the electric guitar. He was also influenced by Budgie drummer, Ray Phillips.

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

Musical career

Alex had several early bands with Eddie before Van Halen came to be. Names of these previous bands include The Broken Off Combs, The Space Brothers & Mammoth Chammoth

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. 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.

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) 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.

Personal life

Alex married Valeri Kendall in June 1983, after a two-year engagement. The marriage ended in divorce, just two months later. Alex has one son, Aric Van Halen (born 6 October 1989), with his ex-wife, Kelly Danniels, 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.

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.