Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Van Horner

  Beginning with an opening track that featured car horns (recorded and played at a slower speed) and a bass line that made your windows vibrate, Van Halen exploded onto the music scene in 1978 with its debut album simply entitled Van Halen. The band, which in three years of playing the L.A. club scene had become somewhat of a local legend, would see that legend grow even more as guitar virtuoso Eddie Van Halen would quickly redefine the instrument- influencing thousands of aspiring musicians/guitarists. And while not gifted with much of a voice, Diamond David Lee Roth became known more for his vaudeville-type antics on stage and his sexual escapades off stage than for his musical talents. The first of six studio albums (in six years!!) featuring Roth wasn't their best, in my opinion (that would be Fair Warning), but it is definitely a 'classic.' Nineteen Eighty-Six's "5150" was the first to feature Sammy Hagar; it also marked, again-in my opinion, the end of the band's career...until now. Yes, that's right- if you haven't heard, the boys are back with an upcoming tour and album. I didn't catch them on their 2007/2008 reunion tour, but I will be interested to see if they've got anything left in the tank. It's been a long time since an album (esp. with Roth!), and I'm really hoping that their upcoming release contains the same fire and "brown sound" that accompanied their first four albums.

Though I prefer the original line-up, I did get an opportunity to meet the Van Hagar lineup (thanks to winning a contest at the local music shop) on October 19, 1986 during their 5150 tour, which for a guitar-playing teen was a dream come true! 

 Former Brave Bob Horner had a meteoric rise much like Van Halen's, as well as a career that somewhat parallels that of the band. Horner was the 1978 Golden Spikes Award Winner (the first to win the award), which is given to the top collegiate baseball player each year, and MVP of the 1977 College World Series. Taken by the Braves with the first overall pick in the June 1978 amateur draft, Horner went straight to the majors upon signing his professional contract-and never appeared in the minor leagues. During his rookie season, Horner hit 23 home runs (which led all N.L. third basemen) and won the N.L. Rookie of the Year Award. The slugging third baseman would go on to be a productive hitter, when he was healthy. Various injuries plagued Horner throughout his career, limiting him to only 960 games while in a Braves uniform (from '78 to '86)-and only twice did he even appear in 140 games during a season. When collusion took place prior to the 1987 season, Horner was forced to go to Japan, where he played for one season. It was a move that reminds me of that of Van Halen once Diamond Dave was fired and Hagar was hired: it just wasn't the majors, baby.

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