Book Review: Runnin’ With The Devil by Noel E. Monk (2017, 337 Pages Paperback)

Posted: December 1, 2018 in Books

runnin with the devil

Van Halen was one of the most popular and influential rock bands of the late 70’s and mid 80’s.  Their sound is trademarked by the distinctive howl of original lead singer David Lee Roth, and the revolutionary finger tapping guitar technique of Eddie Van Halen.  Noel Monk managed the original lineup from 1978-1985, when Roth left the band and went on to pursue a solo career.

I am a big Van Halen fan, the original lineup was one of my favorite rock bands ever.  So imagine my excitement when I got this book as a birthday present this year, I would finally get to hear some juicy stories from someone on the inside.  The book is both less entertaining and less informative than I expected.  Sure there are stories, but they are nothing that a devoted Van Halen fan wouldn’t already know. A large part of this book consists of stories about how the manager, who’s also the author, came to the rescue of the band, or made the band better, or richer or more popular. One thing is for certain, no Van Halen fan, no matter how dedicated, gives a rat’s behind about Noel Monk, or what he did he did for Van Halen.  It was Eddie Van Halen’s guitar skills and David Lee Roth’s promotional skills, some would say self-promotional skills, that made Van Halen famous, the manager had very little to do with the music, honestly Monk is a glorified tour manager, and he probably overstates his role as manager.

Noel also takes shots at everyone in the band, except one, depending one who he was angry at in that chapter.  Monk was never involved in the musical end of Van Halen, and the music would seem to be what would be most interesting to me, so I would read a book by Van Halen producer by Ted Templeman before I would read this book because I would really like to know what the studio experience was like with Van Halen, what the creative process was like with them, and this book never provided those insights.  Monk gives his opinions about the songs and the cd’s, almost all of which I disagree with, so take his opinions about the music with a grain of salt.  Somehow, at the end of this complicated story, Monk makes himself the victim of the whole sordid tale, Monk comes across as many things, but a victim, no.  Not by a long shot.

I read David Lee Roth’s book Crazy From The Heat, a long time ago, I don’t remember many details, but I remember laughing a lot, because when David Lee Roth tells a story, it was worth telling.  There was always a punchline, and the punchline was worth hearing.  This book seems to forget about the fun,  and concentrates on the anger, bitterness and acrimony that was undoubtedly  part of the band, but  it’s also what makes parts of this book difficult to read.  The stories of drugging, drinking and womanizing also become a bit redundant after a while.  That said, I read this book pretty quickly, I think I was hoping for more interesting details, or better writing, in the end, there was neither.

Runnin’ With The Devil:  The Devil’s in The Details.

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