In an ironic twist of fate Alex started taking guitar lessons and his brother Eddie van Halen bought a drum kit. While Eddie was delivering newspapers to pay for his drum kit, Alex would play it. They soon switched instruments permanently.
In 1974 the brothers along with David Lee Roth and Michael Anthony became known as Van Halen. They were signed to Warner Brothers in 1977 and released their self titled debut album on February 8, 1978.