14. Van Halen: From Garage Band to Superstardom

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Van Halen is to Rock 'n' Roll as Cadillac is to automobiles. It is one of the most popular bands ever to perform in the country, and is still going strong 40 years later. It is known as one of the best bands ever to come from a garage-band background. Founded by brothers Eddie and Alex Van Halen in their home in Pasadena, California in 1972, the band was one of the top rock acts in the country, and is as popular today as it was back then.

Eddie Van Halen is considered one of the best lead guitarists in the history of music by many of his peers, while Alex was a superior drummer. Together, they formed the nucleus of the popular band that also included bass guitarist, Michael Anthony, and vocalist, David Lee Roth. The brothers were born in the Netherlands, and immigrated to the United States when they were children. The two were inseparable, and developed an interest in music in the mid-60s. They formed the band in 1972, using the name Genesis. They later changed the name to Mammoth when Eddie discovered Genesis was already in use. Eventually they renamed the band Van Halen.

According to popular legend, Van Halen was discovered by Gene Simmons of the rock band Kiss, while they were performing at Gazzarri's on the Strip, a popular spot for heavy metal rock bands in the 70s. They continued to play at gigs throughout Southern California when they released their self-titled debut album Van Halen in 1978. The album peaked at No. 19 on the Billboard list, and the band never looked back. Van Halen's greatest commercial success was from 1978 through 1985, but their albums continue to sell. It has garnered a cult-like following from several, younger generations of American Rock 'n' Roll fans.

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