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BOOK REVIEW: ERUPTION – The Eddie Van Halen Story by Paul Brannigan

| 20 January 2022 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: ERUPTION – The Eddie Van Halen Story by Paul Brannigan

Faber Social through Allen & Unwin
November 2021
Paperback, $34.99
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

Biography/ Rock and Roll


Paul Brannigan’s name should be familiar to most fans of rock and roll journalism from his stints writing for Kerrang!, Mojo, Rolling Stone, Q, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer magazines, as well as his previous books about Dave Grohl and – co-authored with Ian Winwood – Metallica.

Here he turns his steely gaze on the most influential guitarist of his generation, Eddie Van Halen, following the van Halen family from emigration to America, through growing up poor in a foreign land, to becoming the biggest band in the world.

Eddie and elder brother Alex’s tribulations upon arriving in America were myriad. They barely spoke a word of English and were mercilessly bullied. Their Dutch father Jan, an alcoholic professional musician who played clarinet and saxophone, and their strict Indonesian mother Eugenia, were both forces of nature, pulling the boys in different directions.

But it was Alex’s drumming and – more so – Eddie’s skills on the guitar, which would make a difference for the Van Halen boys, and signpost the way their lives and careers would go, especially when they made acquaintance with one loud mouth showman named David Lee Roth.

Here’s where Brannigan lets himself down, though. As a biographer, his job is to document the life of his subject, but his personal bias against – loathing of, might be a better way to put it – Roth permeates his story. By all means explain how Eddie and Alex thought their singer and frontman was a buffoon – but it’s not your job to say that you think he is, even if he is.

That aside, the author does a good job documenting not one but two successful careers – recognising that the Van Halen and ‘Van Hagar’ bands were as incredibly different as thir singers, Roth and Sammy Hagar.

At 232 pages there isn’t room for an exhaustive look at every step of Eddie Van Halen’s career – indeed, reading Eruption it is clear there are many more stories not referenced at all – but as an overview, and a chronicle of an extraordinary talent, this is a mighty fine starting point.


Category: Book Reviews

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Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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