Van Halen's 'OU812': 11 Things You Might Not Know
By Dave Basner
May 24, 2023
On May 24th, 1988, Van Halen released OU812, their eighth studio album and their second with Sammy Hagar. The album came together soon after the tour for 5150 ended. Eddie Van Halen had some riffs and Sammy had notebooks filled with lyrics so it didn't take long for them to get back in the studio.
Since its release, the record has gone four times platinum for sales in excess of four million copies. Soon after it first came out, the record spent four weeks on top of the Billboard 200 chart, reigning number one from June 25 to July 22. To celebrate the iconic record, here are 11 things you might not know about it:
1.OU812 was going to be titled Bone but Sammy wound up seeing a delivery truck with the serial number “OU812” ("oh you ate one too") on it and thought it was funny. The rest of the band agreed and at the last minute, decided to call the album OU812.
2. The album cover pays tribute to The Beatles and is an homage to the classic cover art of the Fab Four’s 1964 LPWith the Beatles.
3. The photo on the back cover of the album is of the Hugo Rheinhold statuette Affe mit Schadel.
4. On many versions of the album, the track list on the back is in alphabetical order, not sequential order.
5. The band dedicated OU812 to Eddie and Alex Van Halen’s dad, Jan, who died in December 1986. On the inner linings of the album, they wrote “This one’s for you, Pa.”
6. The group started work on the album in September of 1987 and finished in April 1988, just a month before it came out.
7. Eddie Van Halen once said that the guitar solo in “When It’s Love” is a nod to Eric Clapton.
8. Eddie and Sammy began working on “Finish What Ya Started” at 2 AM one morning when Eddie made a middle-of-the-night trip to Sammy’s house in Malibu, which was next door to his home. The pair played guitars on Sammy’s balcony until they were happy with the music, then Sammy wrote the lyrics.
9. “Finish What Ya Started” is one of just two Van Halen songs that sees Sammy playing rhythm guitar.
10. “Black and Blue” was the first song from OU812 to hit number one on the Billboard Rock Tracks chart.
11. The band included their cover of the obscure Little Feat song “A Apolitical Blues” on the record. OU812 engineer Donn Landee had been the engineer on that song as well.