This Week in Billboard History: Van Halen Breaks Up; VH1 Launches; Monte Lipman Named Universal Prez
This Week in Billboard History: Van Halen Breaks Up; VH1 Launches; Monte Lipman Named Universal Prez

VH1 Logo Launch Tape on Vimeo.

1985: VH-1 'Optimistically Introduced'
A page one Billboard story with the headline "MTV'S VH-1 Opens on An Optimistic Note" reports that MTV Networks' second 24-hour cable music service, VH-1, is receiving favorable reaction from label executives after its Jan. 1 debut, even though it isn't available yet in the nation's two largest markets and that there are production bugs to be worked out.

VH-1 launched on 215 cable systems around the country and had an initial total of 3.4 million subscribers, then-MTV Networks CEO Bob Pittman told Billboard.

Harvey Leeds, national director of video promotion for Epic in the same article said his label wasn't going to produce videos exclusively for VH-1, but was looking to the new cable channel to provide exposure for acts that weren't being screened elsewhere. "We certainly don't regret making videos for artists like Shakin' Stevens and the SOS Band, but until now, there wasn't a 24-hour channel where we could get them played," Leeds said.

Expectations that video play on VH-1 would help sell records was low, he added. "That 25-plus audience has been very passive. Our biggest hope is that VH-1 could help certain country-oriented, urban and adult contemporary artists to cross over and expand their base."

Arista Records' Peter Baron was more enthusiastic about VH-1's effect on sales, predicting that label acts like Barry Manilow and Air Supply would gain new exposure. Baron said his label would produce videos for VH-1, targeting the channel's demographic. "VH-1 gives us an outlet for more mature videos, he said, "directed at the older audience."
[Billboard, Jan. 12, 1985, page 1]

The back cover of Van Halen's "1984" album, showing the bands' divergent interests as manifested in their shrewd '80s fashion choices

1985: Van Halen Breaking Up? Eddie Wants to Play Jazz, David Lee Roth Going Solo

Is "1984" - the album, the year and the tour, the last for Van Halen? Rumors are rampant that it's curtains for the band. Reports that Eddie Van Halen wants to play jazz and that David Lee Roth wants a solo career have fueled the speculation. Roth addresses the issues with Billboard's Ethlie Ann Vare. "I don't know," he shrugs. "Since my very first days with the band 11-years ago, I have always had the feeling that one day I would wake up in a cold hotel, all the rooms would be empty, and I would be stuck by the phone with a busy signal."

Roth tells Vare that his solo EP, "Crazy From the Heat," is not an indication he's going out on his own, that he recorded the four-song set to keep busy while the group recuperating from its recent world tour. "We're going to start arguing again in the middle of January," he laughed, adding that he has heard some great music coming out of Eddie's studio.

A week after Vare's story ran in Billboard, the first single from Roth's EP debuted on the Hot 100. His remake of the Beach Boys' "California Girls," with Carl Wilson on backing vocals, peaked at No. 3 in March. A medley, "Just A Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody," reached No. 12 in June.

Less than four months after Vare's article was published, Roth split from Van Halen. His first full-length solo album, "Eat ''Em and Smile," was released in the summer of 1986. It peaked at No. 4 on The Billboard 200 and is Roth's highest-charting solo album to date.

Van Halen continued with Sammy Hagar as lead vocalist, until his departure in 1996. Roth returned to record two new songs for a greatest hits collection. Then Roth was out again, replaced by Gary Cherone from Extreme. After a 2002 tour that co-headlined Roth and Hagar, the latter rejoined Van Halen for a tour and three new tracks for another greatest hits album. At the end of the tour, Hagar departed and Van Halen went on hiatus.

On Jan. 24, 2007, reported that Roth would re-join Van Halen for a 40-date summer amphitheater tour. In March, Eddie Van Halen entered rehab, and the tour was postponed. The first date was Sept. 27, 2007 and after 74 arena shows, the tour ended on June 3, 2008.

In 2011, Van Halen announced that Roth was back in the group and they were recording a new album. On Nov. 11, reported that the band had signed with Interscope, after making Warner Bros. its home since 1978. And on Jan. 5, t he band played an intimate, invite-only show at NYC's Cafe Wha?.

"A Different Kind of Truth," Van Halen's first full album with Roth on lead vocals since "1984," will be released on Feb. 7. A tour commences Feb. 18 in Louisville, Kentucky, and is scheduled to run through June 26 in New Orleans, La.
[Billboard, Jan. 12, 1985, page 36]

2000: And For The Republic, For Which He Stands: Monte Lipman

Christina Aguilera

Monte Lipman, co-founder of the Republic imprint with his brother Avery,is named President of Universal Records by Universal Music Group chairman/CEO Doug Morris. Universal buys his Republic imprint, which is planning to release new albums by industrial rockers KMFDM (as MDFMK), alt pop rockers Mollys Yes and Mississippi rock band 3 Doors Down. Republic will remain a separate label within the company and will be run by Avery.

Morris tells Billboard, "I've picked a lot of the great ones here: Jimmy Iovine, Sylvia Rhone, Val Azzoli, Jason Flom, and now Monte. That's what I like best about my job: being able to identify great young executives and talent." The CEO adds, "Monte's going to go down as one of the best. I believe that. He better be - I've trained him for three years."

Lipman told Billboard's Chuck Taylor, "My advice from Doug has always been to take care of the people that work with and for you, to encourage, motivate and educate them."

Under Lipman, the label flourished, with a powerful roster of artists, including Nelly, Colbie Caillat, Jack Johnson, Owl City, Florence + the Machine and the Band Perry (through the Republic Nashville collaboration with Scott Borchetta's Big Machine Records), among many others.

The Universal labels have undergone restructuring more than once. Artists were divided between Universal Republic and Universal Motown under the umbrella Universal Motown Republic Group. In 2011, Motown became part of Island Def Jam and Universal Republic became a stand-alone label.

In January 2011, Monte Lipman signed a new, long-term contract as President and CEO of Universal Republic Records. Avery, co-president and COO, signed a similar long-term pact. In July 2011, Lipman's mentor, Morris, was named chairman and CEO of Sony Music Entertainment.
[Billboard, Jan. 15, 2000, page 12]

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz