VAN HALEN Once United

Release Year: 
I was going to sum up the last few days in the tumpultous world of Van Halen, but then I got this newsellter from Van Halen Rising author Greg Renoff. Makes for a good short summary and a nice diversion:
"The past week has been a tumultuous one on Planet Van Halen.

In a brutally frank interview with Billboard, Eddie minimized the contributions of former Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony.

His words quickly went viral. 

When Sammy then blasted Eddie in defense of Anthony, calling Eddie a liar, it too made headlines around the web. 

But earlier in the week, Hagar had lodged another charge against Eddie and Alex Van Halen. Sammy told Eddie Trunk that the brothers had taken legal action to stop Hagar from performing Van Hagar songs when Hagar's band, the Circle, performs on TV. 

Are we having fun yet?

All of these events reminded me of story I had to leave out of Van Halen Rising because of space issues. It involves a 1976 legal dispute that saw the four members of Van Halen unified in their efforts to support their band.

It's a good reminder that at one time, Van Halen was a four-man gang with an us-against-the-world mentality."
In 1976, Daniel Sullivan, then just out of college, was a concert promoter in Los Angeles. Back in 1974, he'd gone to Pasadena City College with David Lee Roth and had become friends with him. The following year, he'd put on successful shows featuring Van Halen at LaCañada High School. 

To kick off the Bicentennial Year, Sullivan hired Van Halen for $500.00 to play a show on February 27 at Glendale High School.

Early ticket sales were brisk, and Sullivan was sure this would be his biggest gig yet. 
Then the city of Glendale came calling. 

Photographer Mary Garson, who shot pictures at Sullivan's shows, recalls what happened: "Dan promoted the show, sold tickets, did the contract. He did everything right except get an insurance bond with the city of Glendale. The city wouldn't let him do the show without one. He told me, 'I'm screwed. I've sold several hundred tickets, but the city says I need a $50,000 insurance bond. I don't have the money to pay for it.'"

Sullivan had to cancel the concert. 

So he began refunding tickets, and called David Lee Roth to tell him the bad news.

Roth didn't take it well. 

Roth told Sullivan, "Hey, well, you still owe us 500 bucks."

Eddie, it turns out, was even more fixated on the fact that Sullivan had signed a contract promising to pay the band $500. Even though the show didn't happen, Eddie still wanted Sullivan to pay. "Eddie was pretty adamant about it," Sullivan told me in 2012. "I said, 'Look, I can't do it. I don't have the money. I’ll do another show for you guys or whatever.'" 

Eddie replied, "No, I want the 500 bucks." 

When Sullivan said again that he didn't have the money, the band said we'll see you in court.
"So they ended up suing me in Small Claims court in Glendale," Sullivan recalls. "I was bummed, especially because even though we were in small claims, we were still friends. It was weird.

"So my Dad and I come in to the courtroom and there’s the band, on the other side of the court, all of them, dressed in suits.

"I swear to God it was the most amazing thing. I was just a kid, and I'm with my Dad, and here's Van Halen on the other side of the court. David Roth represented the band. He said that I broke the contract and didn’t follow through with the contract. In the end, they won a judgment for 500 bucks against me."

But Sullivan never paid. Garson recalls that the judge didn't attach a payment plan schedule to the ruling, so Sullivan just didn't ever settle the claim.

More than two years later, Sullivan had lost touch with the band and was living in London. Then one day in the fall of 1978, he got a big surprise: "I'm taking a bus down these streets and I see this sign, a rainbow-colored poster saying Van Halen is playing at the Rainbow Theater."

Sullivan showed up for the show on October 22, 1978. After the gig, he had a roadie bring a note to the band members. 

He recalls what happened next. 

"David, Alex, and Eddie came out and they were so sweet, especially David. He was like, 'Daaannn! How ahh yah ya mothafucka?' It was just the coolest thing ever. I was probably one of the few people there other than the crew who had seen them on the other side of the Atlantic.

"So the show's over and we're looking for some place to go but everything in London was shutting down for the night. So I went to all these private [after-hours] clubs with them. It was amazing."