EDDIE VAN HALEN - New Book, Tonechaser - Understanding Edward: My 26-Year Journey With Edward Van Halen, Available Now; Excerpt Posted
December 14, 2022, 12 months ago
Legendary rock journalist Steve Rosen has finally released his long-awaited book about the intimate friendship he shared with the late iconic guitar player, Edward Van Halen. The book is titled Tonechaser - Understanding Edward: My 26-Year Journey With Edward Van Halen and chronicles the writer’s remarkable relationship beginning in 1977 (before the release of Van Halen’s first album) and continuing through 2003.
Rosen, who has previously authored seven other books including biographies on Jeff Beck, Free & Bad Company, Black Sabbath and Randy Rhoads, writes about what it was like being friends with the greatest guitar player in the world. Not an easy task to undertake.
In order to tell the story accurately, Rosen pored over hours of interviews - all fastidiously recorded and catalogued on cassette - and peered deep inside distant memories to create a book unlike any other out there.
The journalist spent many hours with Edward at his own Hollywood Hills guesthouse; up at Van Halen’s 5150 studio; on airplanes, in cars; and even jamming on several occasions with Ed.
There is no other book out there that captures the heart and creativity of the late master instrumentalist. Rosen was Edward’s friend - close friend - for many years and no other writer can lay claim to that title.
Tonechaser - Understanding Edward: My 26-Year Journey With Edward Van Halen is a hardcover, 580-page tome with a 7x10 format. Front and back covers were shot by the iconic Van Halen photographer Neil Zlozower who also provided interior photographs.
The author was going to write Edward’s authorized biography back in 1985 but that book never came to light. Van Halen fans have literally been waiting some 37+ years for Rosen to revisit the book. If early responses from readers are any indication, fans say the wait was well worth it.
Steve Rosen writes, “I chose that title, Tonechaser, because Edward once described himself in that way. I thought it was such a beautiful, fragile, and poignant word for him to use in his pursuit of the ever-elusive Brown Sound. I also thought it worked on another level in terms of the 'tone' of his life and being a guitar player, bandmember, husband, father, and icon. I had never heard Edward ever use that phrase anywhere else and in fact after interviewing hundreds and hundreds of guitar players, I've never heard one of them ever use that word to describe what they do.”
Tonechaser is available on Amazon, Reverb and Etsy. Or purchase Tonechaser at paypal.me/Tonechaser Include your address. Send payment as FAMILY & FRIENDS. The book shipped in the US is $47.00, shipped to Canada is $85.00, shipped to Europe/UK is $91.00, shipped to Australia is $102.00.
International buyers can contact the author for details about shipping at email@example.com.
Below is an excerpt from Chapter 4, titled "How to Play Guitar Like Eddie Van Halen in One (Not So) Easy Lesson." Steve Rosen shares "This took place on December 30th, 1978 and was the very first time Edward came over to my little guesthouse in the Hollywood Hills."
My coffee cup emptied and my brain swimming with a sweet caffeine buzz, I heard a car pull up on the street below. I looked out my front window and saw some beater parked in front of my garage and assumed that couldn’t have been his car since I expected him to pull up in something fast, shiny, and exotic. I went into a mild pique of anxiety because I wanted to keep that spot free for his arrival. I opened my front door, started down the stairs and saw the driver’s side door opening. I was about to unleash fury in the same instant I recognized the person exiting the car. It was Edward. He slammed the door, saw me standing at the top of the steps and called out, “Steeeeve.” Holy sweet sabotaging hell, I almost screamed at him for parking in the place I was holding for him and how unsettling would that have been?
I walked down the steps and said hello, thanked him about a hundred times for coming over and how had he been and how was the tour and honestly, I don’t remember much about what took place. I was too busy grappling with the incomprehensible reality of his presence at my place that day and trying to make some sense of the fact that I was standing there with that person whom I’d only met a little over a year-and-a-half ago and during that time had conquered the world and been elevated to a level of idolatry few musicians ever reached over the course of an entire career much less achieved with the release of one album and holy fuck what was going on? All of that went trampling through my head and as I tried to process it Ed said, “Get in the car.”
While I sat there in his car waiting to hear the music, I wanted one of my neighbors to see me. No, I was desperately hoping a neighbor would see me and particularly this drop-dead blonde who lived one house up from me or these two fiercely beautiful girls who lived across the street. I was praying one of them would be walking by and see me sitting in the car and look at the driver and recognize him and gasp. I would no longer be that anonymous writer who lived at 1909 Weepah Way but rather that guy who was sitting in a car with Eddie Van Halen. “Maybe we should go talk to him,” they’d think. “Maybe he’ll introduce us to Eddie” (cue: squeals of sexual delight).
Scenes of wild excess dancing in my brain, I was brought back to reality as I heard Ed cuing up the tape. Before the first song came out of the boombox speakers, I realized how truly rare this was. Not only because I was sitting there with Edward Van Halen, but because I had never listened to an album while the artist was right there beside me. I had been to listening parties where the record label played a band’s new album as hundreds of guests and the group itself wandered around noshing on hors d’oeuvres and tossing back free cocktails at an open bar but that was not the same because it felt so impersonal. This was different, man. I was there with the artist about to listen to his album. One on one. That had never happened before.
The first song started pouring out of the speakers at ear crushing levels. I was assaulted by that monstrous riff bordering on what I thought was almost funky; a very staccato, stabbing-like lick. The next track began with a series of behemoth chords and segued into volume swells I figured Edward had created with the guitar’s volume control.
What I remember about both songs were that as soon as the killer solos kicked in, there were no rhythm guitar backing tracks, which was what I loved about Cream and their live approach to recording. I also recognized that as something Van Halen had done on the first album: just a stripped-down trio going for the throat.
We sat there in his car and kept listening and I tried to scribble mental notes in my brain about solos and certain riffs and what kind of guitar sounds he was getting but that was nearly impossible. Had I known we were going to be listening to music, I would have brought a pen and paper and I was not about to say to him, “Uh, Edward, I’m going to run back into the house and get a pen and paper. Just pause it there.” Talk about a mood killer, right? I had no reference point because there were no vocals, so I had to try and catalog the songs as a fast shuffle or mid-tempo and which solos went in which songs and stuff like that and the minute a new song came on, I forgot the track before it.
Because we didn’t want to disturb the neighbors, the windows had been rolled up. Edward continued to blow smoke rings like whole notes that drifted to the top of the car and filled the compartment with this vaporous and lethal cloud. My eyes were watering, and I could feel my lungs turning black. On top of all of that, he had cranked the volume to such a deafening level, I kept waiting for little droplets of blood to come leaking out of my ears. Still, with all of that, I never wanted to leave the car. I wanted that tape to keep on playing so I could sit next to him forever, locked in that cocoon, that bubble, marveling at the guitar playing I was hearing and thinking I was the most special and privileged dude in the world and who cared if I went deaf, my eyeballs exploded, my lungs turned to leather, and a merciless migraine sent me to the hospital. I was sitting in a car with Edward Van Halen and hearing music only a few people in the world had heard at that time and if that meant going deaf, dumb, and blind, I was willing to make the sacrifice.