NOEL E MONK - Runnin' With The Devil
November 7, 2017, a year ago
(Dey St. Books)
This 350 page, quick read Van Halen biography is from Monk, tour manager for their initial tour, who would eventually take over the reins entirely, until the Roth era break-up. There's no early history, just from the point where Monk becomes involved, the band signing their Warner Brothers contract. Personally, never a big VH fan, much more enamored, growing up, with KISS, Alice Cooper, Blue Oyster Cult, Scorpions, Rainbow and AC/DC (before discovering the NWOBHM), so much of this story is new to me. As a former tour manager myself, know it's not always possible to see the show, so rather than regale stories from the stage, he expertly relates the logistics before & after (including financial aspects), as well as getting the band out of a restrictive contract, how to deal with bootleggers and even a chapter on Eddie Van Halen's marriage to Valerie Bertinelli. Written from a loving perspective (despite ultimately getting canned), this is a character study, predominately of Eddie and David Lee Roth.
The author admits the guitarist was lovable, but naive (bordering on stupid), just wanting to play guitar & get high, while the singer was the smart, but over-emotional egotistical brains of the operation. Not privy to the creation of the songs, nor recording (Monk claims, after the debut, the studio was just an endless cocaine session he wanted no part of), almost off handedly credits Roth with writing lyrics at the eleventh hour, without much effort, or conviction. Compares Eddie to Peanut's character Pigpen, but instead of clouds of dirt, the guitarist produced white puff of cocaine residue whenever he moved. Talks about boosting sales of stiffing Fair Warning record, via payola and by the time of their greatest commercial success, 1984, the band hated each other, ultimately leading to Roth's narcissistic departure, soon followed out of the door, by Monk himself. Settlement of his post-axing lawsuit against the band precluded him from writing a book, for some period of time, which (he acknowledges) is now up. Sad story, all the way around.