“You only have 12 notes. Do what you want with them.”
– Eddie Van Halen
It’s hard to believe that we’re saying goodbye to Eddie Van Halen.
I grew up listening to his band, and nobody sounded the way Eddie did on guitar, even the people who were trying to sound like him.
That signature guitar sound, and the band’s talent for writing catchy, hard rocking songs won them millions of fans on record and onstage – as well as a reputation for offstage partying and excess.
Maybe you’ve heard the story about how Van Halen got so big, they decided, just because they could, to tell concert promoters that they didn’t want any brown M&Ms in the food left for them backstage.
It is true that if you look at the contracts the band sent out to promoters for their world tour in 1982, the list of backstage snacks says “Potato chips with assorted dips, Nuts, Pretzels, M&M’s,” and then in all capital letters “WARNING: ABSOLUTELY NO BROWN ONES.”
But it’s not what you think.
As Snopes reported years ago, the band used the M&Ms rule as a kind of early warning system with concert promoters.
Frontman David Lee Roth explained that big tours bring big challenges with sound, lights, logistics, even safety.
If the band saw brown M&Ms in the bowl backstage, they knew they needed to double-check everything else that was happening with the show, because the promoter hadn’t been paying attention to detail.
That’s not to say the band wasn’t wild in lots of other ways.
But the M&Ms? That was actually pretty clever.
And if you’re looking to rock out on this Wednesday, you might try this: on YouTube, there’s now a heavy metal cover version of “Conga.”
Yes, “Conga,” by Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine, but as a metal song.
I guess the rhythm is gonna get you, right?
A Headbashingly Good Metal Cover of Gloria Estefan’s Conga (Geeks Are Sexy)