How Alex Van Halen Quit Drinking
Alex Van Halen recalled how the death of his father led him to quit drinking, saying he knew he had a “responsibility” to avoid “artificial inspiration.”
Jan Van Halen, a musician himself, was a major influence on his sons, and can be heard playing clarinet on the 1982 Van Halen song “Big Bad Bill (Is Sweet William Now)” along with them. He died in 1986 after suffering a heart attack. By that time, Alex’s capacity for drinking had become notorious.
In an interview with Modern Drummer, just published but recorded before Eddie Van Halen’s death, Alex said: “We spent the first 30 years of our lives trying to cloud what reality was … but by the time you’re 30, you’d better change your ways or you ain’t gonna make it any further. I believe we’re very lucky to be able to do this – to make music and make a living at it and to share it with people. We’re very luck, so don’t fuck it up.”
He noted that "when our dad passed away, after our long life of touring and making music [where] there was alcohol involved … I looked at him, and unspoken, I said, ‘I’ll try to make it better.’ So I quit. You do have an obligation and responsibility to [work] without artificial inspiration.
“We all look for some kind of meaning in life," the drummer concluded. "But Ed and I were lucky that we found it early. So I can’t complain.”