5/29/83: Van Halen's $1.5-Million Payday

via VHND     Thirty-Five years ago today Glen Helen Regional Park in San Bernadino, CA. played host to "Heavy Metal Day" in the middle of one of the largest three-day music festivals ever assembled.  Apple Computers bigwig Steve Wozniak along with concert promoter Barry Fey decided to ramp things up from the previous year's US Festival.  The 1983 affair would be set on a 500-acre site, employing the largest video screens ever and a 400,000-watt Sound System to reach the estimated 670,000 fans. Over that Memorial Day Weekend the biggest names (*see above for the lineups) from multiple Rock genres would all play the biggest gig of their careers.. None bigger, perhaps than Van Halen who famously signed on to collect $1.5-million for their near-2-hour, headline set. This got the attention of the Guinness Book of World Records who created a special category in the following year's compendium. "The Artist or Band receiving the most money for a single performance"


What most fans and members of the media weren't aware of was how much Van Halen SPENT preparing for the US Festival.  They had been off the road, unpolished and needing to get their "act" together for such a big gig. By the time they rented a soundstage to rehearse, equipment, not to mention their own stage crew,  they had already dished out about $500,000 before setting foot on the actual stage. This exorbitant figure also included the manufacturing cost of all the merchandise they had made up for the special occasion. Shirts, hats,posters, programs etc. designed by David Lee Roth and a buddy.  The investment paid off in the months that followed as the publicity from the event launched them even higher up the super star ladder. Especially for the "Diamond Dave" brand. This would all pave the way for 1984 and we all what happened after that.  

Kenny Young

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