This book annoyed me.
I got more enjoyment reading Valerie Bertinelli's self deprecating+Eddie-bashing, and Sammy Hagar's inflated ego autobiographies than this book -- that even a revision to add the last chapter on the celebrated reunion tour couldn't get me to feel proud to have read this book as a fan.
In short, this book was dull. Was Ian Christe just playing it safe while writing this book, keeping it as bland as possible?--or did he really not know enough about band gossip, the stuff that Van Halen fans itch for? Whatever the case, I learned everything I wanted to ever know about Eddie's bridge on his guitar, and what kind of effects he used for different songs rather than getting real, hard-edged gossip. The problem is, Ian Christe was writing what fans already knew, and retelling it by relying on magazine article interviews, all the while using the odd fancy metaphor and simile to try and be cute. It was still boring.
What's worse is this is the only book out there that isn't impartial to the Van Halen brothers! If you read Sammy Hagar's and Valerie Bertinelli's autobiographies, then
read this book, you might just find some truth of the Van Halen drama somewhere.
It disappoints me that there is barely any history or news on Alex and Michael. If you flip through the amateur and often blurry photos taken by Kevin Estrada (who the author admits was nothing more than a friend/fan dabbling in photography in the early years when these shots were taken), you'll see the order of importance: Eddie, Dave, Sammy, Alex, Michael. The book is loaded with more boring facts on Dave and Sammy's solo work, than on Alex or Mike's lives before all the break ups. Honestly, I've been looking everywhere online for the goods on why Alex is now an ordained minister, and this book didn't even make mention of it, much less give any reason for anything more personal going on in Alex's life. Sure, a divorce here, a kid there, c'mon. There is so much more to tell about the Van Halen brothers, and it just isn't anywhere to be found here. Why? Because they had nothing to do with the book! Christe couldn't get personal because he simply wrote objective material.
If you've paid any attention to YouTube clips of Van Halen including MTV documentaries and interviews on popular TV programs, Christe does his best to copy quotes here verbatim. It was strange being a huge fan, just reading in print what I've already seen broadcast on television or on YouTube. It was weak research, and makes me feel like I could have written this book myself just by being a fan.
It seems I just won't be satisfied until an autobiography from Eddie or Alex is written. Until then, Neil Strauss still reigns as the rock journalist/writer who can expose and celebrate rock bands, writing with them or for them to give us a private peek in to their lives or personalities.
Ian Christe? No.