Viva Van Halen

The Band that Changed Rock N Roll

February 10th, 1978 – a day that changed music and revolutionized Rock ‘N’ Roll.
On that day, Van Halen released their groundbreaking debut album, Van Halen, and immediately soared to fame.
With one of the songs hitting 19 on the Billboard Hot 100 shortly after release alongside the band opening for Journey and Montrose on the 1978 “Infinity Tour,” Van Halen quickly gained fame and outshined tour headliner Journey.
While the band’s personalities clashed, mainly because of singer David Lee Roth’s huge ego and Eddie and Alex Van Halen’s family issues (which would lead to the eventual demise of the original lineup), the group had an otherworldly connection as musicians.
Edward and David, who are dubbed “the greatest of all time” in their respective fields by millions of fans around the world, were musical geniuses.
Roth, who is known for his flashy appearance, energetic stunts, and huge personality, knew he was going to be a superstar from a very young age.
His confidence is a major part of what brought Van Halen to success.
Eddie Van Halen, the guitarist who is remembered for his groundbreaking style that revolutionized Rock ‘N’ Roll, was timid and anxious to perform despite being a virtuoso.
The band began in 1973 when guitarist Edward and his drummer brother Alex were only 18 and 20, bassist and supporting vocalist Michael Anthony was 19, and frontman and lead vocalist Roth was 19.
In fact, he had written the guitar parts for the majority of the band’s first 6 albums by the time he was 18 but only played small local shows.
Like other big-name 80’s hard rock bands, Van Halen offers catchy lyrics, a very distinct sound, killer guitar, and a fantastic live performance.
The band isn’t truly comparable to anyone else, but their style of music – and especially instrumentals – can be compared to Whitesnake, Dokken, and Extreme.
I choose to compare them to 80s glam metal bands because, while Van Halen came around in the 70s, their popularity reigned supreme in the 80s, and their flashy, theatrical, and glamourous live image better fit the glam metal scene rather than the 70’s rock scene.
Like the other bands mentioned, Van Halen has a killer guitar sound that is truly unique. Extreme, a late 80s progressive metal band, largely took inspiration from Van Halen.
Extreme guitarist Nuno Bettencourt picked up the guitar because of inspiration from Eddie Van Halen, and it reflects in his highly technical playing style a lot – though he does have his own distinct sound.
Guitarists George Lynch (Dokken), John Sykes, and Steve Vai (both Whitesnake) are all comparable to Eddie Van Halen because of their sheer talent, innovation, distinct sound, and overall passion for music.
Nobody can outshine Eddie, but he does have many talented people standing alongside him for the title of “greatest guitarist of all time.”
Van Halen’s first six albums – the discography made by the original lineup – rocked rock n’ roll as if they were a derailed train: they just couldn’t stop until they crashed, and once they crashed, their legacy was already in tact — no one could forget it.
Their first album instantly grabbed the attention of fans and displayed the sheer talent Van Halen had to offer.
From catchy songs like “Runnin’ With the Devil” to earth-shattering guitar solo “Eruption,” Van Halen proved they weren’t just another rock band. By their second album in 1979, Van Halen II, they had become a household name.
Their third through fifth albums (from 1980-1982) all have fantastic songs like “Everybody Wants Some,” “Unchained,” “Mean Street,” and “(Oh), Pretty Woman,” which only boosted their popularity and locked them into a rigorous touring schedule which stretched overseas.
Van Halen had become more popular after every album that their record company, Warner Bros, demanded a new one only weeks after the last had been released.
During this period a lot of tension and creative differences arose within the band. In 1983, everything reached a peak.
They released their album 1984 and it was their personal big bang. Their biggest hit, “Jump,” hit number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and stayed there for 5 weeks alongside the album’s other hit song, “Panama,” which peaked at number 13 on the Hot 100.
This album was groundbreaking and nothing like the band’s previous albums.
It included the use of synthesizers and keyboards, something frontman Roth strongly disliked, and he left the band as soon as the touring was done in 1985.
That wasn’t the end of Van Halen; After Roth left, singer and guitarist Sammy Hagar stepped in and brought new creative freedom to the band: they had way more hit songs, sold more albums with Hagar, and continued to rule the 80’s.
Despite this, I will always prefer Roth-era Van Halen.
If you want to listen, Van Halen’s music can be found on all streaming services today.
Unfortunately, the band doesn’t play live anymore due to a rift in all of the lineups alongside Edward’s heartbreaking passing, but you can still see their songs played live by amazing tribute bands such as “The Atomic Punks” and “JUMP – America’s Van Halen Experience.”


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