Van Halen burst on the rock scene in 1978 like a larger-than-life, hard rocking, non-stop party, and channeled that energy into a seminal debut. Ostensibly, the band had two frontmen: leonine lead vocalist David Lee Roth and volcanic guitarist Edward Van Halen. Both possessed the charisma and talent to be the focal point of a solid rock band, but together, they created an undeniable dynamic that quickly captivated legions of loyal fans. Anchoring the unit was the powerhouse rhythm section of bassist Michael Anthony and drummer Alex Van Halen, Eddie's brother. By the time Van Halen arrived in the studio to record their debut, they had honed their skills honestly, playing nightclubs, parties and high school gymnasiums across Southern California. It was during those formative years of touring that the band learned the value of showmanship – and how to win audiences all over the world with it.
As Van Halen grew in popularity, the production quality of their stage show followed suit as an increasingly flamboyant rock and roll spectacle. Alex Van Halen used the drum kit not only as a percussion instrument, but also as a visual art form. Working with various drum manufacturers, Alex custom designed enormous and elaborate drum kits that reflected the group’s musical sensibility and provided Alex the platform to shine.
After many years of planning, we are finally bringing one of Alex Van Halen’s historic drum kits to be exhibited in Cleveland at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. The kit pictured above was used on Van Halen’s 1980 world Invasion Tour in support of the Women and Children First album, joining Alex as the band performed more than 100 shows. The white Ludwig kit features two custom articulated bass drums, each more than five feet long, in addition to an impressive array of floor toms, tom-toms, a gong and myriad cymbals. This kit is a sight to behold and is exhibited on the Museum’s lower level.
Many thanks to Alex Van Halen and his drum tech John Douglas for all their help and dedication in bringing this tremendous item to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.