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What Guts do your partners have?

by | Oct 21, 2020 | Guts, partner, Van Halen

When you would walk into a Debate Round, you would put your name on the ChalkBoard – your number, and then your names, so the Judge would know who you were.  You would get scored both as a team and as an individual. As such you had a “brand” as a team.  Jack and Jones – two young guys from Tyler, Texas who won the National Debate Tournament.  You would see the names engraved on trophies and wonder would you measure up? And the truth was that often the partners you were most successful with were not who you would choose… an odd fact that always puzzled me… what was it about THIS person that made US better…. 

The Van Halen brothers had progressed to an actual band in the late ’60s and now were to the point of playing parties. There was a fun story that Eddie disassembled his car to get the equipment to gigs – took out the back and passenger seats so he could fit 3 Marshall 1960 Cabinets – which are 80 lbs each, and roughly 3 feet square.  He would wire the passenger door closed, with his pedalboard on the floorboard, and his guitar (which we will cover Friday – with pleasure…) on the center console.  But.. he needed a PA for a singer as parties were not big on instrumentals.  And they had no money as you heard yesterday… BUT, there was a rich kid… who had a PA system… 

.. in the Van Halen universe there are the Roth fans, and the Hagar fans… and honestly I like both.  But this is where David intersects the story, and frankly, without him, we would not even be talking about this.  Eddie and Alex were big into Black Sabbath and heavy metal in the early 70’s… but the party crowd, make that the PAYING crowd, was more into Beach Boys, Motown, and Funk – think dancing. Like me at the High School sock hops, what I wanted to listen to was not as important. Dave knew how to leverage his way into the band with the equipment, and used that to create a band that one person described as “… a hard rock band with a pop sensibility”.   But his influence didn’t end there – he wanted to progress from backyards to clubs…. and convinced the boys to “dress up” out of flannel (which they were in BEFORE it was cool…) 

It worked… they got into clubs, but the first club was a “cover band/disco” place.  Remember this is the mid 70’s… when I started college then, you had to have torn jeans to get in.. and by the end of the 70s you had to have those crazy acetate shirts to dance in – who the hell thought THAT was a good idea?  Anyway, Dave got them there, and then invited another club owner to see them, and invite them to a club where they could play the original songs that would get them an album deal.  The brothers were hesitant to leave their comfortable paying gig, but reluctantly did… played alongside an emerging ZZ Top (… see Texas is in EVERY story somewhere..). That is where Ted Templeton (Doobie Brothers, etc) saw them… 

… another interesting tidbit was that Dave and Alex both told Eddie to not show off his real talents as LA is “…. full of other guitarists who will steal your riffs”. Dave got them on the map, and a record deal… and eventually… well we will get to that eventually 😉  I got to choose my partner… and you guessed it, we lost every round. Why?  I still am not sure, but I do know it was the only tournament my parents came to… and saw every round we lost 😉  They were not invited back, and I went back to Mr. Shumate’s choice.  Johnson/House worked… and like Dave, she got me into better suits with some very direct feedback 😉  If you got to East Texas, there are a number of trophies there… but ultimately, we both headed out.  What partners have the Guts to tell you what you should really do differently… and… as the very first notes the world would hear from Van Halen… do you have strong partners, or are you Running with The Devil? 

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