Van Halen Helped Discover Alice in Chains

photo by Alan Light, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
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On paper, Alice in Chains and Van Halen feel like they belong in two different corners of hard rock history.

Even though they both had some heavy riffs in their time, Jerry Cantrell was never going to give Eddie a run for his money, and their more songwriter approach to rock and roll was nothing compared to VH’s larger-than-life sound.

Long before grunge took over though, Alice owed most of their career to the Van Hagar era of the band. 

Right before the alternative scene kicked into high gear, Sammy Hagar actually was the one pushing for giving Alice an opening slot on one of their first stadium tours, saying “I loved that song, ‘Man in the Box,’ I said, ‘Let’s get these guys to open for us.’

I played the video for everybody, you know, to see what they look like. ‘Look at these guys; they’re cool.’ Everybody said, ‘Yeah’ and that’s how they came out.”

Then again, Sammy is also quick to say that he was a little more insecure about Van Halen’s place in the world of rock at that point as well, sayingWhen grunge came along, that was freaky, man!

Because I’m looking at these guys, and we were sort of the glam rock, we’re all dressed up and dressing like girls and stuff. … They were like down and dirty and funky, they made me nervous. I thought, ‘These guys are gonna disrespect us.’ You know they’re gonna look at us like, ‘Your shit’s done, buddy.’”

Even though ‘Man in the Box’ may have been tearing up the charts, Sammy’s logic of getting them on tour was more about insecurity than anything else, saying “Let’s get ’em on the damn show, that way their fans will know that we’re cool!’ … It came out of fear a little bit. Not bad fear, but nervousness.”

It’s not like the Alice guys weren’t nervous either, with Jerry Cantrell calling these shows some of the most nervous he’s ever been onstage, saying:

“I was getting ready to go on and {Eddie’s} standing in my pit with Vallerie Bertenelli and he’s running scales like ‘Hey man’ and I’m like ‘Are you kidding? I was so nervous. It was probably the worst show I’ve ever played in my life.”

If Jerry knew how everything was changing though, there’s a good chance that Sammy was just as nervous as he was about getting left in the dust.