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POP EYE

Metal Big 4 Slouches Toward Bethlehem

February 14, 1988|PATRICK GOLDSTEIN

What do Van Halen, the Scorpions, Dokken and Metallica have in common? They're all going out on tour this summer.

Together.

The 25-city stadium tour, aptly titled The Monsters of Rock, will begin Memorial Day weekend and run through the first week of August, with each act doing at least a one-hour, headliner-style set, climaxing with a splashy Van Halen finale.

After that the details are hazy, though you can expect to see a Los Angeles-area pit-stop at the Los Angeles Coliseum or Anaheim Stadium. Ticket prices will be announced this spring; it's probable that they will be at least $20.

It's also probable that Van Halen manager Ed Lefler, who's masterminding the extravaganza, will be taking a lo-o-o-o-ng vacation after its over.

"You're looking at a man who's really going nuts," he said last week. "I don't think we realized the enormity of this until we got into it. Now it's become a matter of pride--that we're going to do it right."

According to Lefler, Van Halen played 109 indoor dates on its last tour. The band felt the next step was to move onto the stadium circuit. After rejecting several other possible group combinations, Lefler settled on the current line-up. "I think the Scorpions and Dokken compliment our sound perfectly, while Metallica can bring in a younger kind of crowd."

Lefler was reluctant to discuss how much money he and Van Halen would make from the tour, but he was happy to discuss the headaches of organizing it.

"The logistics are just incredible," he said. "It's like a traveling rock festival--we're doing a Texas Jam-size event every night. We have buses, planes and trucks--it's like moving an army. We'll have a caravan of at least 25 trucks, two separate lighting and sound crews, three different stages. . . ."

Lefler chuckled. "We even need two different accountants--one for the box office, one for the production itself. And the scheduling has been a nightmare. Each stadium has its own set of problems and priorities, so to route the tour properly you end up juggling all the dates like it's a major-league sports schedule."

Any time you put 70,000 head-bangers in one place, you immediately think of security. "It's an obvious concern, which is why we hired Louis Messina, who ran the Texas Jam, as a consultant for the tour," Lefler said. "He has a lot of experience in dealing with big-crowd situations, so hopefully his experience will come into play here."

With the Monsters tour now firmed up, it's going to be crowded on the heavy-metal concert circuit this summer. Promoters have reported that Whitesnake, Judas Priest, Ozzy Osbourne, Iron Maiden, AC/DC and Def Leppard will all be hitting the road over the next six months.

Will someone suffer at the box office? "I'm much happier having Dokken opening for Van Halen than headlining their own tour," said Cliff Burnstein, who manages Dokken and Metallica. "The competition is going to be murderous out there."

Burnstein predicts that if any concert is hurt, it won't be the Monsters of Rock. "Rock fans always want to go outdoors to a show like this," he said. "It's a ritual. It's beyond me, but kids are perfectly happy sitting out in the sun all day, listening to the bands.

"I suppose it's a variation on the '60s pop festival attitude. You go through hell and then you tell everybody, 'Hey, man, it was great!' "

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