There are rumors that Van Halen is releasing new music some time in the near future. This will be with David Lee Roth on vocals, and the three Van Halens (Eddie, Alex and Wolfgang) so it can’t be called the “original lineup.” But given my longtime identification as a VH fan, it’s close enough.
The first song of theirs I ever heard was “Dance the Night Away” which was a 45 single (I can still remember those things) back in 1979, possibly. The cover sleeve showed David Lee Roth doing this mind-blowing jump, which he broke his foot doing. I didn’t know that at the time, but I can believe it. That song offers no hint of Eddie’s guitar virtuosity, it’s just a late 70s radio number. It’s not a disco song, but it is from that era, unfortunately.
I’m ashamed to admit that the first time I really took notice of Van Halen was through Eddie’s guitar solo on Michael Jackson’s “Beat it.” I’m not the only one, I’m sure, but it’s still embarrassing that I was into Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, and even Iron Maiden back then, but never got around to Van Halen. And then 1984 came out–ironically enough, in 1983–and nothing was ever the same after that.
I was a huge Hagar fan back then, so when Dave left the group to go solo, I was happier than a pig in (well, you know what) when Sammy came in. 5150 is a record I could put on today and get transported back to high school in the bat of an eye. I even titled this post after one of the songs on that record, if you didn’t notice.
I remained a VH fan throughout the Hagar era, and haven’t paid them much mind since he left after Balance in about 1993. That’s almost 20 years now. It’s crazy how time rolls on. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame a few years ago was weird when Eddie and Alex and Dave didn’t show up, leaving the two now-exiled members of the band (Sammy and Michael Anthony) to accept the honors. And the inevitable Dave reunion and tour was interesting, but I never really expected new music to come out of it.
And it still hasn’t come out yet, so maybe this is jumping the gun (no pun intended) just a bit. But I owned a Van Halen 8 track once upon a time (Van Halen II), vinyl (1984, Van Halen I), cassettes (Women and Children First, Fair Warning, Diver Down, 5150, OU812), CDs (Balance, Right Here Right Now) and now I’ll snap up their latest on iTunes, if it ever appears. It’s a crazy musical progression, but one that I’ll be quite happy to have made.