19 Things You Might Not Know About Van Halen's Self-Titled Debut
By Dave Basner
February 10, 2018
On February 10th, 1978, Van Halen released their self-titled debut album. To celebrate it’s 40th anniversary, here are 19 things you might not know about it:
1. The group recorded the album in just three weeks and most of it was done live with very few overdubs.
2. The cover photos were taken at LA’s Whisky a Go Go.
3. David Lee Roth has said Van Halen is his favorite of the band’s records.
4. “Runnin’ with the Devil” has been misinterpreted as satanic. While the band has never said what it really is about, it’s believed to be about what it’s like being a young touring band.
5. “Runnin’ with the Devil” starts with a bunch of car horns. Those horns actually came from the band members’ own cars. They removed the horns and put them in a box, powering them with two car batteries and a foot switch. They were then slowed down in production. Including car horns on a track had been Gene Simmons’ idea. The Kiss bassist produced a demo for Van Halen in 1977.
6. The lyrics to “Runnin’ with the Devil” were inspired by funk band Ohio Players’ song of the same name.
7. The instrumental “Eruption” had been part of Van Halen’s show since at least 1976.
8. “Eruption” introduced Eddie Van Halen’s two-hand tapping technique to the rock world.
9. “Eruption” almost didn’t make it onto the album. Eddie didn’t think it was right for the band but producer Ted Templeman overheard it while the guitarist was rehearsing for a live show. The engineer just happened to be recording so Ted had it go on the record.
10. While recording “Eruption,” Eddie made a mistake and to this day, whenever he hears it he thinks he could’ve played it better.
11. The band released their cover of The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me” because of an encounter Eddie had with a group called Angel. Eddie showed Angel’s drummer a demo of their version of the song and the next day he learned Angel were recording their own cover of it to release before Van Halen’s. VH rushed to get theirs out first.
12. Eddie was upset “You Really Got Me” was the first single off the album because he didn’t want the single to be someone else’s song. He would’ve preferred “Jamie’s Cryin’.”
14. When Eddie wrote “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘bout Love,” he didn’t think it was good enough to even show his bandmates.
15. Eddie penned “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘bout Love” to be a punk rock parody but it didn’t end up sounding punk.
16. “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘bout Love” is about casual sex.
17. “Jamie’s Cryin’” is about a girl who has a one-night stand that she regrets. Ironically, David Lee Roth, who has had his fair share of one-night stands, penned the lyrics.
18. “Ice Cream Man” is a cover of Chicago blues musician John Brim. He recorded it in 1953.
19. Van Halen has sold more than 10 million copies in the US alone, giving it diamond status.