Eddie Van Halen, RIP

When we were involved with doing the concerts at Cal State Fullerton, our sound & lights crew were also the guys who worked the Van Halen tours.  The band was rehearsing at a sound stage in Los Angeles getting ready for the US Festival, and I got to go along.  Afterwards, I had trouble hearing for a week!

Here are highlights of that show, for which they were paid $1.5 million…..and got them into the Guinness Book of World Records for biggest rock payday at the time:


Eddie was a Chevy guy too. I’m not sure if he painted these cars like the guitars, or vice versa!

Here is the clip from when Valerie Bertinelli was hosting Saturday Night Live and Eddie was just tagging along. He was hanging out in the SNL-band room when they decided to whip up a tune to play together.  Here’s how it turned out – and note that Valerie introduced them while wearing a 91X button!


Toots, RIP

Let’s break from our early-1980s cruise around the L.A. music scene to acknowledge one of the greatest Jamaican artists of all-time, Toots Hibbert, who died on 9/11.

As most of you know, my wife Donna was born and raised in Jamaica, and her father was a musician in his own right. Her parents sent along this video as their favorite tribute to Toots:

The Motels

Donna and I went to Cal State Fullerton in the early-1980s, and I was involved with booking bands to play free shows during the day (X, Rank and File, Robbie Krieger, The Red Devils, etc.) and ticketed shows a couple of times per year. I was the director during the 1982-1983 school year when we pioneered having the beer companies sponsoring our program, and we thought we could book anybody.

Among many others, some of the big local LA bands were X, the Go-Gos, Missing Persons, and the Motels, who we really wanted.  But their manager had bigger ideas, so we had the Plimsouls instead. The recent Go-Gos documentary showed how lucky breaks made a difference, and management matters!  It makes you wonder who else could have been more successful.

The Motels is a band who could have been huge, but the lead guitarist Tim McGovern was Martha’s boyfriend and they broke up right before they released their most successful album, All Four One, which could have propelled them to major status:

We did have Tim McGovern’s band Burning Sensations play in the CSUF Pub!


The Showtime documentary on the Go-Gos is really good, especially if you spent any time in Los Angeles in the early 80s.  They went from just another punk band to international superstars overnight.

Formed in Los Angeles in 1978, the Go-Go’s initially consisted of Belinda Carlisle (vocals), Jane Wiedlin (guitar, background vocals), Margot Olavarria (bass), and Elissa Bello (drums).

They were formed as a punk band and had roots in the L.A. punk community. They shared a rehearsal space with the Motels and Carlisle, under the name “Dottie Danger”, had briefly been a member of punk rock band the Germs. After she became temporarily ill, she left the Germs before playing a gig.

The band began playing gigs at punk venues such as The Masque and the Whisky a Go Go in Los Angeles and the Mabuhay Gardens in San Francisco alongside bands such as XFearthe Plugz and the Controllers. Charlotte Caffey (lead guitar, keyboards, background vocals) was added later in 1978, and in the summer of 1979, Gina Schock replaced Bello on drums. With these lineup changes, the group began moving towards their more-familiar power pop sound.

The group frequently met at a Denny’s on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, and it was there that they chose the band’s name.

During late 1979, the band recorded a five-song demo at Gold Star Studios in Los Angeles, and in 1980, they supported the British ska revival groups Madness and The Specials in both Los Angeles and England. The Go-Go’s subsequently spent half of 1980 touring England, earning a sizable following and releasing the demo version of “We Got the Beat” on Stiff Records, which became a minor UK hit.

In December 1980, original bassist Olavarria fell ill with hepatitis A and was replaced with Kathy Valentine, who had played guitar in bands such as Girlschool and the Textones. Valentine had not previously played bass guitar. Carlisle also related in her autobiography, Lips Unsealed, that according to the band’s view, another reason for Olavarria’s dismissal from the Go-Go’s was that she frequently missed rehearsals, due largely to her dissatisfaction with the band’s move away from punk and toward pop. In late 1982, Olavarria sued the remaining members of the band for wrongful removal. The suit was settled in 1984. Olavarria later joined Martin Atkins’ band Brian Brain.

The Go-Go’s signed to I.R.S. Records in April 1981. The following year, they toured with The Police on the Ghost in the Machine Tour. Their debut album, Beauty and the Beat, was a surprise hit: it topped the U.S. charts for six weeks in 1982 and eventually received a double platinum certification. The album was also a success outside the U.S. charting at No. 2 in Canada, where it received a platinum certification, and No. 27 in Australia. In 2003, the album was ranked No. 413 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. “Our Lips Are Sealed” and a new version of “We Got the Beat” were popular singles in North America in early 1982. During this period, the Go-Go’s started building a fanbase.

In 1982, the group was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best New Artist.

Link to Wiki article Link to Showtime Doc trailer

Dave Alvin

Back in the 1980s, you could count on The Blasters, Los Lobos, X, and The Beat Farmers playing at least a couple of live shows around Southern California every year.

But as time went on, there were some of us who couldn’t tell the difference between Phil and Dave Alvin.

Here’s Dave telling a story worth hearing:

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