14 Things You Might Not Know About 'For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge'

By Dave Basner

June 17, 2024

This week marks the 33rd anniversary of the release of Van Halen’s ninth album, For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, which released on June 17, 1991. To celebrate the effort, here are 14 things you might not have known about it:

1. The album came out when censorship was a hot button issue and Sammy Hagar was trying to push the envelope. He initially wanted to call the album F***, but pulled back.

2. Hagar’s friend, boxer Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, told him that the f-word is actually an acronym for “for unlawful carnal knowledge” (though it isn’t). The band decided that would be the name of the record.

3. The phrase “for unlawful carnal knowledge” was first used by the band Coven. They named a song that on their 1969 album Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls.

4. The band worked on the album for 13 months, completing it less than two months before it hit shelves.

5. Six singles came off For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge: “Poundcake,” “Right Now,” “Runaround,” “Top of the World,” “Man on a Mission” and “The Dream is Over.”

6. To create the intro for the opening track, “Poundcake,” Eddie Van Halen held a battery operated power drill up to the pickups on his guitar.

7. “Poundcake” was the first single off the album and went to number one on the rock charts.

8. You might recognize the riff in the song “Top of the World” because it was first part of the outro of the song “Jump.” “Top of the World” is usually played live after “Jump” for that reason.

9. “Top of the World” spent four non-consecutive weeks on top of the rock chart. It was the only single from the album to originally make it into the Hot 100, peaking at number 27. (“Right Now” was re-released in 1992 and peaked at number 55 on the Hot 100).

10. Toto’s Steve Lukather provided backing vocals on “Top of the World.”

11. The instrumental track “316” is an homage to Eddie’s son, Wolfgang, who was born on 3-16, or March 16th.

12. Sammy thinks “Right Now” has the best lyrics he ever wrote for a Van Halen song. He said that he was tired of penning “cheap sex songs” and wanted to get serious and write something about world issues.

13. In 1992 and 1993, Crystal Pepsi commercials featured “Right Now.” Eddie allowed it because he knew if he didn’t, the company would just hire studio musicians to cover it.

14. For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge debuted at number one on the charts and stayed there for three weeks. 

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