Runnin’ With the Devil: By Noel E. Monk & Joe Layden (Harper Collins)

Rennin’ With the Devil
By Noel E. Monk & Joe Layden
(Harper Collins)

Noel Monk is a road warrior, a rock & roll touring monster. Back in the 1970s his tenure in the music industry was primarily kept to managing tours for bands with major record deals…Black Sabbath and the Rolling Stones to name a few. Not bad company to keep. Of particular note is that Monk managed the Sex Pistols only U.S. tour in early 1978 and witnessed that band implode. Following, he was asked by his contacts at Warner Brothers to tour manage an up and coming band that was on the verge of releasing their debut album. That band was Van Halen and Monk hit the road with them for a 10-month tour. Fed up with their non-existent manager (Marshall Berle) and impressed by Monk’s attention to their needs, the band hired him as their manager in 1979; a position he held until 1985, just as David Lee Roth departed for a solo career.

Here, Monk chronicles his time with Van Halen in great detail; pulling no punches and sparing few details. It’s a fun read and gives an interesting insight into how quickly the band transitioned from a SoCal backyard party band into one of the biggest rock bands in the world. Through Monk’s guidance the band took on its own merchandising, one of the only bands to shoulder that risk in the early 80s, to great financial benefit. The book also gives great context as to the naïveté of the members throughout their run, the personalities at play during their time together and how tenuous the whole situation was at any given time. It’s honestly amazing that they stayed together as long as they did. Now, freed from the binding agreement that prevented him from profiting off of the name of the band, Monk gives the down and dirty truth behind the making of Van Halen.