(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

It’s an Alex Van Halen birthday celebration, so let’s break out the drumsticks, brushes, mallets and auxiliary percussion and bang on things.

I feel like we need to show AVH more love. Granted, his kid brother passing away back in 2020 was a pretty big, very sad moment in rock history. I actually stayed on the air for an extra five hours to play Van Halen and take your calls when it happened.

But I feel like it’s always Alex’s nephew Wolfie or his former lead singer Dave that are grabbing all the headlines. Hell, even former VH bassist Michael Anthony has been making news as of late. And that’s all good. But Alex deserves his due.

Alex Van Halen Birthday: Saluting the Big Brother

Alex Van Halen and his kid brother formed Mammoth–the band that would become Van Halen–with Eddie Van Halen in 1972. Alex was 19. Eddie was 17. It’s hard to find two teenage brothers who get along on much, let alone two that play in a band together.

It’s a different story when those two brothers are bound by music. Both Alex and Eddie studied classical piano as young boys. Eddie was actually supposed to be the drummer of the two. But Alex would play Ed’s kid while Ed was delivering newspapers to pay for it.

Alex Van Halen Birthday: 6 Songs I Love

Everyone has their favorite Van Halen lineup, Van Halen era, and Van Halen album. But what they all have in common is Alex behind the kit. No matter what drama came up, Alex and Eddie stuck it out in their namesake band. Even if they weren’t getting along with each other.

So let’s crack open a 6-pack in celebration of the Alex Van Halen birthday date of May 8. May he always be remembered as one of the all-time rock drumming greats.

  • "Atomic Punk"

    There’s not a bad cut on Van Halen. What I like about “Atomic Punk” is Alex’s cymbal-work during the intro. It’s light and jazzy. It almost swings. An unexpected delight.

  • "Somebody Get Me A Doctor"

    You’re probably picking up on a mini-theme at the start of this six-pack: cymbals. Again, I’m singling out AVH’s cymbal work. Not just on the opening, but after the opening. The open hi-hat. Just terrific.

  • "And The Cradle Will Rock..."

    Scores of examples of the Van Halen brothers complimenting each other’s playing and styles litter the VH catalog. This is one the prime ones. What Alex is doing while Eddie solos is so understated, yet so effective.

  • "Hot For Teacher"

    Come on. Like I’m NOT gonna put this one on my list?!

  • "Love Walks In"

    When the band entered their Van Hagar iteration and fired up the synths and let the ballads flow, Alex followed suit. It’s no easy feat to put a driving beat behind a “love song,” and he pulls it off with aplomb, especially in this live version.

  • "Poundcake"

    This is one of my all-time fave Van Halen cuts. Does Alex do anything special or spectacular here? Not particularly. He just rocks. And sometimes that’s enough.

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