Alexander Arthur Van Halen is a Dutch-American musician born on May 8, 1953. He is best known as the drummer and co-founder of Van Halen hard-rock band.
Alex Van Halen formed the band in 1974 together with his young brother Eddie Van Halen, David Lee Roth and Michael Anthony. In 1977, Warner Brother signed the band, and it released its debut album in 1978. Alex and Eddie have remained the only permanent member of the band since it was formed.
Alex and his brother were both trained as pianists from an early age. And though Alex is known as a professional drummer, he aspired to be a guitarist, with Eddie taking on more of the drums.
However, when Eddie was delivering newspapers to pay for his drum kit, Alex found the time to practice on them. For this reason, Alex became more skilled with the instruments. At one time, Eddie Listened to Alex playing The Surfaris, and he was really impressed with his mastery.
The way he brought out the drum solos in “Wipe Out” made Eddie change to electric guitar playing. Alex says his major influence was Budge drummer Ray Phillips.
Alex Van Halen played in several early bands with his brother before forming their own. They were in groups such as The Broken Combs, The Space Brothers, The Trojan Rubber Company, and others. They formed Mammoth in 1972 with Mark Stone playing the bass and Eddie on the lead vocals.
The band changed its name because Mammoth was already taken by another band. Alex handled managerial duties, including booking, gigs. And when they released their self-debut in 1978, it became a defining moment, not only for them but also for other hard rock musicians.
The term ‘brown sound’ is associated with Eddie’s guitar, but in truth, it coined around the sound of Alex’s snare drum. Alex has done most of his recording with the band. The only other instrumental he has done besides this is “Respect the Wind” which led to the brother’s nomination for the 1997 Grammy Award in Best Rock Instrumental Performance category.
To Alex Van Halen, the Ludwig drums, pedals and hardware are the best in the market. He uses Paiste cymbals, Remo drumheads, and Regaltip drumsticks.
Alex’s arena-sized ambitions and jazz-influenced approach to drummer have been the force behind the success of Van Halen as one of the most vibrant groups.
It has attracted millions of young drummers across America who pushed themselves in the 80s trying to copy the skip-stone tom-tom work the defined “Hot for Teacher.” The opening groove on “Finish What You Start” has also been a major influence for drummers of all ages.
But it was his devotion and toughness that got him to greater heights. In 1984, Alex played to the end in a Rolling Stones show, with his hand broken in four places.
Debby Miller wrote a Rolling Stone feature that “Alex could not even hold the stick”; hence he tied it on his wrist with a shoelace and completed the show. He put the same energy and dedication to his career, never letting anything take away his focus.