July 28, 1998:
As the lights went up, the crowd began chanting, “Eddie, Eddie, Eddie,” eager to see none other than lead guitarist for Van Halen, Eddie Van Halen.
The rocker, his brother Alex and lead singer Gary Cherone, formerly of the band Extreme, hit a crowd of 5,000 gathered at the Montage Mountain Performing Arts Center, Scranton, with such hits as “Unchained,” “Mean Street,” “Why Can’t This Be Love?” and “Dance the Night Away.”
Bruce Gillenhall of Port Jervis, New York, told a Scranton Times reporter that Van Halen is a god.
“People talk a lot about Hendrix and Clapton and Jeff Beck, and they’re all great,” Gillenhall said. “But Eddie is Eddie. There’s never been anyone like him. Those other guys all sound the same after a while, but nobody sounds like Eddie.”
Three years earlier, on Aug. 27, 1995, Van Halen drew a crowd of close to 14,000 people to Montage Mountain. On this visit, the band’s lead singer was Sammy Hagar.
The Race family from Hughestown spoke with a Scranton Times reporter about why they attended. Robert Race Sr. said he grew up listening to the band along with Rush and Black Sabbath. His wife, Carol, said she listened to Van Halen more than he did, while their son, Robert Jr., described Hagar as “real cool.”
Bill Risse, spokesman for the Lackawanna County commissioners, said the Van Halen concert could be the largest of the 1995 season. That show, however, also is remembered for a stabbing that happened prior to its start. According to a woman who was with the male victim at the concert, they were heading to the beer tent when the alleged assailant, another man, started shoving the victim. The victim pushed back, and the alleged assailant turned and stabbed him.
A report in the Aug. 30, 1995, edition of The Scranton Times noted that officers recovered the weapon, a small penknife, after the concert. No one had been arrested for the attack, according to the report.
On Oct. 6, Eddie Van Halen lost his battle with cancer. The 65 year old is survived by his son, Wolfgang; wife, Janie Liszewski; and ex-wife, actress Valerie Bertinelli.
Brian Fulton has been the librarian at The Times-Tribune for the past 15 years. On his blog, Historically Hip, he writes about the great concerts, plays/musicals and celebrity happenings that have taken place throughout NEPA. He is also the co-host of the local history podcast, Historically Hip. He competed and was crowned grand champion on an episode of NPR quiz show “Ask Me Another.” Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9140; or @TTPagesPast