Van was born into music. The youngest of five, he began his musical career at the age of four, singing and harmonizing with his family at church. He had music in his blood, but as the result of a fateful card game, Van became involved in the high school marching band percussion section, where he learned to play numerous percussion instruments. 

As a sophomore, he acquired his first drum kit, which he taught himself to play. Through his own perseverance, dedication, and love of music, Van became accomplished enough to join his first band after playing the drums for just one year.

He spent the next twenty-five years performing, recording, and producing music with numerous local and national groups, including  Route 66, Twylight Zone, Changes, Blue Moon, Chasin The Cat, Freefall, Bat Out Of Hell, Pound Of Flesh, FuzzPipe, 30 Pack Joe, Catywampus, Asiz, Militia, Johnette Napolitano (Concrete Blonde), Kenny Loggins, and Kansas.