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Music

Take a visual tour of every Alex Van Halen drum kit

@TylerGolsen

Few drummers are as beloved yet strangely underrated as Alex Van Halen. Maybe it was because his brother Eddie commanded so much attention, but Alex Van Halen rarely got the praise that he rightfully deserved, both as an innovator and a damn good player. Rock solid and ever-loyal to the band that bore his last name, Alex Van Halen was just as important to making Van Halen one of the world’s biggest rock bands as anyone.

Alex never strayed from Van Halen: while Eddie was occasionally lending his talents to the likes of Michael Jackson and Roger Waters, Alex never performed with anyone else. His keyboard contributions to the song ‘Respect the Wind’ on the Twister soundtrack represent his only work not credited to the band, and although he continued to bash away his signature rhythms with his brother, Alex Van Halen only ever played drums for Van Halen.

That being said, his work in Van Halen is more than enough to solidify his place among the greatest rock drummers of all time. The double bass shuffle in ‘Hot For Teacher’ is a pure endurance test, while his fills and atypical patterns in ‘Jump’ gave the band’s only number one hit some unique character. Whether it was the opening hi-hat/cowbell beat of ‘Dance the Night Away’ or the half-time breakdown on ‘Jamie’s Cryin’, Alex Van Halen always had a trick up his sleeve that could make a standard arrangement sound far more interesting.

As Van Halen ascended out of the Los Angeles clubs and into the stadiums of the world, Alex turned his focus to creating one of the most eccentric and excessive drum kits of all time. From the start of the band’s career, Alex always had a double bass drum setup and a few different cymbals, but once the band hit it big, the expansion began: rototoms, octobans, up to five bass drums, and a gong that would light on fire. Alex also kept up with modern technology, integrating electronic drums into his massive kit throughout the 1980s.

Some of the names that Alex Van Halen partnered with over the years will be familiar to any drummer: Ludwig and Paiste were Van Halen’s go-to’s for most of his career. Alex also began to experiment with resonators and fibreglass shells, giving him his iconic sound as Van Halen transitioned into the ’80s.

Check out a full round-up of Alex Van Halen’s drum kits down below.