Monday, November 9, 2015

53 - Greg Renoff, author, "Van Halen Rising"

Greg Renoff, Van Halen RisingAllow a few seconds for buffering.

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Greg Renoff is not only a rabid Van Halen fan, but also a Ph. D. in history. Dissatisfied with the lack of information on Van Halen's earliest years, he put his degree to use studying not what happened to the lost colony at Roanoke Island (snore!), but how did Van Halen's years playing backyard parties prepare them to be the dominant hard rock group of the following decade?

The result is Van Halen Rising: How a Southern California Backyard Party Band Saved Heavy Metal. The book is deep with drama and detail, thanks to the over 230 interviews Renoff conducted with insiders such as longtime bassist Michael Anthony, producer Ted Templeman and even David Lee Roth's sister.

Just a month after its release the book already tops Amazon sales charts for its categories, and has garnered positive reviews from top rock writer Chuck Klosterman and Rolling Stone. Now Greg Renoff talks to Art about his book, possibly the most detailed rock n' roll bio ever written. 59 minutes.

Art's comments: "I mean to brag, but I've made a pilgrimage to the original Van Halen home, Pasadena City College and the Pasadena Civic. As exciting as it was, if I had had Van Halen Rising and had known the exact history that transpired on these sites, it would've been even better! After reading this book, I can just see David Lee Roth on the Van Halens' doorstep, preparing to knock and take his place in history.

"In any future VH1 Behind the Music about Van Halen, Greg Renoff will certainly be the talking head you'll see most. I had a great time chatting with him."



Kim said...

Outstanding interview, Art! As a high school graduate and resident of nearby La Crescenta from 1974 to the early eighties, I got to witness the Van Halens from neighborhood parties once or twice to their appearances at the Troubadour in Hollywood, but never knew the back stage history before. Very interesting interview! Thanks to you the book is on order....

Art Howard at Night said...

You may very well see the names of people you know in that book! It seems like he must've interviewed everyone in a 10 square mile area. I've been really impressed with how their dad came here at the age of 42, not even knowing the language, and mopped floors and washed dishes to gave his kids the best musical education he could so the dream could at least come true for them. It also gives an interesting context to the music industry climate they came up in, and how pivotal Dave's insistence they "lighten up" their sound was to their success. The only thing better than reading it now would have been if I could have read it at 17!