Van Halen (album)

Van Halen is the self-titled debut studio album by American hard rock band Van Halen. Released on February 10, 1978, the album peaked at #19 on the Billboard 200. The album became widely recognized as the band's popularity grew, selling more than 10 million copies in the United States by August 7, 1996 and being certified Diamond.[3]

Van Halen
A montage of the band members performing
Studio album by
ReleasedFebruary 10, 1978 (1978-02-10)
RecordedAugust 30 – September 1977[1]
StudioSunset Sound Recorders, Hollywood[2]
LabelWarner Bros.
ProducerTed Templeman
Van Halen chronology
Van Halen
Van Halen II
Singles from Van Halen
  1. "You Really Got Me"/"Atomic Punk"
    Released: January 28, 1978
  2. "Runnin' with the Devil"/"Eruption"
    Released: May 6, 1978
  3. "Jamie's Cryin'"/"I'm the One"
    Released: May 16, 1978
  4. "On Fire"/"Jamie's Cryin'"
    Released: September 1978 (Japan)
  5. "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love"/"Feel Your Love Tonight"
    Released: October 25, 1978

Van Halen contains many of Van Halen's signature songs, including "Runnin' with the Devil", the guitar solo "Eruption", their remake of The Kinks hit "You Really Got Me", "Ain't Talkin' 'bout Love", "Jamie's Cryin'", "Feel Your Love Tonight" and their remake of John Brim's "Ice Cream Man".


Van Halen began recording demos in 1976. However, a three-track tape financed by Gene Simmons attracted no interest from record labels. Guitarist Eddie Van Halen was not convinced of the quality of the material because they could not make the recordings with their own equipment.[4] Simmons left to tour with Kiss after recording the demos, but said he would try to secure Van Halen a record deal afterwards.[5]

After recording the demos, Van Halen was offered several concerts. At a sold-out show in their hometown, Pasadena, the group's future manager, Marshall Berle, discovered the band. He and musical entrepreneur Kim Fowley paired them with punk rock band Venus and the Razorblades for a gig at the Whisky a Go Go.[6] After being well received by Berle at the Whisky a Go Go, the band gained the attention of Mo Ostin and Ted Templeman of Warner Bros. Ostin and Templeman were impressed with the band's performance at the Starwood, and Van Halen proceeded to sign a contract with Warner.[7] The recording of their debut album began in October 1977 and lasted three weeks.[4] With producer Ted Templeman, it was mostly recorded live.[8] "Runnin' with the Devil", "Jamie's Cryin'", "Feel Your Love Tonight" and "Ice Cream Man" contain guitar overdubs.[9] Overall, the album cost approximately $40,000 to produce.[citation needed]

“We didn’t have a ton of material", recalled bassist Michael Anthony, "so we basically just took our live show and all the songs we knew and went for it. The whole album only took a couple of weeks. Ted Templeman wanted to make a big, powerful guitar record, and he had all he needed in what Eddie was doing.”[10]

The subsequent tour began with the band opening for Journey, along with Montrose, in the United States.[11] They later opened for Black Sabbath in Europe and the United States.[12]

Packaging and artworkEdit

The cover photos for Van Halen were taken at the Whisky a Go Go, a Los Angeles club at which Van Halen often performed during the mid-1970s. The guitar pictured on the cover of the album is Eddie Van Halen's famous Frankenstrat Guitar (before he added the red paint), a highly modified Fender Stratocaster, which is now housed in the Smithsonian Institution.[13]

Release and receptionEdit

Retrospective professional reviews
Review scores
AllMusic     [14]
Christgau's Record GuideC[15]
Classic Rock     [16]
MusicHound Rock5/5[17]
Q     [18]
Rolling Stone     [19]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [20]

In the United States, Van Halen reached number 19 on the Billboard Top 200; their debut single, a cover of The Kinks' "You Really Got Me", spent three weeks on the chart, peaking at number 36.[21]

Soon after its February 1978 release, Van Halen became regarded by fans and critics as one of rock and roll's greatest debut albums; however, its initial critical reception was mostly negative. In 1978, Rolling Stone critic Charles M. Young predicted, "In three years, Van Halen is going to be fat and self-indulgent and disgusting ... follow[ing] Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin right into the toilet. In the meantime, they are likely to be a big deal."[22] But he also wrote that: "Van Halen's secret is not doing anything that's original while having the hormones to do it better than all those bands who have become fat and self-indulgent and disgusting. Edward Van Halen has mastered the art of lead/rhythm guitar in the tradition of Jimmy Page and Joe Walsh; several riffs on this record beat anything Aerosmith has come up with in years. Vocalist Dave Lee Roth manages the rare hard-rock feat of infusing the largely forgettable lyrics with energy and not sounding like a castrato at the same time. Drummer Alex Van Halen and bassist Michael Anthony are competent and properly unobtrusive."[23] Village Voice critic Robert Christgau said, "For some reason Warners wants us to know that this is the biggest bar band in the San Fernando Valley ... The term becomes honorific when the music belongs in a bar. This music belongs on an aircraft carrier."[15]

According to Rolling Stone's Holly George-Warren, with the album's release the mainstream media focused on Roth's "swaggering good looks and extroverted persona", while fans and musicians "were riveted by Eddie Van Halen's guitar mastery", which included "an array of unorthodox techniques."[24] She notes that, even before the band's debut, "Eddie became a legend among local guitarists."[24]

Kerrang! magazine gave the album a very positive review, and considers the album to be an "essential purchase." They wrote, "IT'S DIFFICULT to overstate the effect VH's debut had upon its release. With the music world split between punk, disco and prog rock, Van Halen combined a dazzling live show with a party-hearty motto and, in Eddie Van Halen, a guitarist who redefined what was possible on six strings. His sound on this album—christened 'The Brown Sound'—remains the holy grail of guitar tones."[25]

Commercial performanceEdit

On August 7, 1996, Van Halen was re-certified by the RIAA for selling ten million copies in the United States alone.[26] One of only six rock bands to release two RIAA Diamond status albums, Van Halen remains one of Van Halen's two best-selling albums, along with 1984.

Van Halen went to Gold status on May 24, 1978, and then went to Platinum status just a few months later, on October 10, 1978. In less than a year the album sold more than one million copies in the US alone, meaning that the album was already a great success. However, on October 22, 1984, the album went to 5× Multi-Platinum status, in other words, with that, the album still had a lot to sell. The album went to 6x Multi-Platinum on February 1, 1989, and then went to 7× Multi-Platinum on September 29, 1993. In less than a year later, on July 11, 1994, the album went to 8x Multi-Platinum, and finally, on August 7, 1996, just two years later, the album went to Diamond status by RIAA.[3]

The Van Halen album, like Van Halen's other David Lee Roth-era albums—excepting Van Halen II, which was re-certified in 2004, to coincide with the promotion of a Warner Bros. Records greatest hits collection—was last brought by Warner Bros. Records to the RIAA for re-certification in 1996, while 1984 was re-certified on February 8, 1999.[3] The band's split with Warner Brothers in 2002, and subsequent agreement with Interscope has eliminated Warner Brothers' incentive for paying the [relatively substantial] fee to promote Van Halen's back-catalog by having its albums re-certified. Despite lack of re-certification, Van Halen's 1978 debut has continued to sell prolifically, re-appearing numerous times on the Billboard 200 and Billboard Top Pop Catalog Albums charts, as recently as 2014.[27][28]


AllMusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine described Van Halen as "monumental" and "seismic", while noting that it is typically not viewed as an "epochal generation shift" in the same way as the debut albums of Led Zeppelin, the Ramones, The Rolling Stones, and the Sex Pistols.[29] He explains, "The reason it's never given the same due is that there's no pretension, nothing self-conscious about it."[29] He commented: "The still-amazing thing about Van Halen is how it sounds like it has no fathers ... Like all great originals Van Halen doesn't seem to belong to the past and it still sounds like little else, despite generations of copycats."[29] In Erlewine's opinion, the album "set the template for how rock and roll sounded for the next decade or more."[29] A retrospective review by Q noted, "Hit singles came later, but this dazzling debut remains their trump card."[18]

In 1994, Van Halen was ranked number eight in Colin Larkin's Top 50 Heavy Metal Albums. Larkin described it as "one of the truly great" debut albums of heavy metal.[30] According to authors Gary Graff and Daniel Durchholz, writing in MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide (1999), Van Halen is a "headbanger's paradise"; before its release, "no one had heard or seen anything like it."[31] In 2003, Rolling Stone, listed it among The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, at number 410;[32] the list's 2012 edition had it ranked 415th.[33] According to Rolling Stone's Joe Levy, the album "gave the world a new guitar hero and charismatic frontman" in Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth, respectively.[32] Levy credits the tracks "Runnin' with the Devil" and "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love" with "put[ting] the swagger back in hard rock", praising Eddie Van Halen's "jaw-dropping technique", which "raised the bar for rock guitar."[32] In 2006, Guitar World readers ranked it number 7 on a list of the Greatest Guitar Albums of All Time.[34] In 2013, Rolling Stone listed the album at number 27 of the 100 Best Debut Albums of All Time.[35]

On April 15, 2013, David Lee Roth was interviewed by Jay Mohr for his podcast, where he selected the album as his favorite Van Halen recording.[36]

In 2017, students of the Los Rios Rock School in San Juan Capistrano, California, re-recorded the full Van Halen album in one day with the help of the Produce Like a Pro team. The session was recorded in the same studio Van Halen recorded in, using the same recording equipment that Van Halen originally used. The Van Halen album continues to inspire young musicians 40 years after its creation.[37]

Track listingEdit

All tracks are written by Eddie Van Halen, Alex Van Halen, David Lee Roth and Michael Anthony, except where noted.

Side one
1."Runnin' with the Devil" 3:36
2."Eruption" (instrumental) 1:42
3."You Really Got Me"Ray Davies2:38
4."Ain't Talkin' 'bout Love" 3:50
5."I'm the One" 3:47
Side two
6."Jamie's Cryin'" 3:31
7."Atomic Punk" 3:02
8."Feel Your Love Tonight" 3:43
9."Little Dreamer" 3:23
10."Ice Cream Man"John Brim3:20
11."On Fire*" 3:01
  • On many cassette releases, "On Fire" is the 6th track, leaving "Ice Cream Man" as the final song.[38]


Van Halen


  • Dave Bhang – art direction and design
  • Jodi Cohen – typesetting
  • Elliot Gilbert – photography
  • Logan Jervis – engineer
  • Donn Landee – engineer
  • Peggy McCreary – engineer
  • Jo Motta – project coordinator
  • Kent Nebergall – engineer
  • Ted Templeman – producer


Weekly chartsEdit

Billboard (North America)

Year Chart Position
1978 Pop Albums[39] 19
1984 The Billboard 200 117[citation needed]


Billboard (North America)

Year Single Chart Position
1978 "You Really Got Me" Pop Singles 36[citation needed]
1978 "Runnin' with the Devil" Pop Singles 84[citation needed]


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[40] 4× Platinum 400,000^
Finland (Musiikkituottajat)[41] Gold 25,305[41]
France (SNEP)[42] Gold 100,000*
Germany (BVMI)[43] Gold 250,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[44] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[45] Diamond 10,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Renoff, Greg (October 13, 2015). Van Halen Rising. Toronto: ECW Press. p. 279. ISBN 978-1-77041-263-7.
  2. ^ "Sunset Sound" (PDF).
  3. ^ a b c "You searched for van halen - RIAA". RIAA.
  4. ^ a b "Volume: Van Halen - Biography and Discography at HardHarderHeavy". (in German). Archived from the original on January 12, 2017. Retrieved December 30, 2016.
  5. ^ Grow, Kory (March 22, 2016). "Gene Simmons Talks Lost Seventies Van Halen Demos". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on March 23, 2016. Retrieved December 30, 2016. I gave the demo back to the band, told them I had a tour to go on and afterward I would try to get them a record deal, but until then, I tore up our contract and set them free. It didn't take them long to get on Warner Bros.
  6. ^ Renoff, Greg. "How punk and new wave resurrected Hollywood's legendary Whisky a Go Go in the 1970s". Archived from the original on October 1, 2016. Retrieved December 30, 2016.
  7. ^ Tolinski 2010, p. 38.
  8. ^ Tolinski 2010, p. 116.
  9. ^ Renoff 2015, p. 561.
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Journey's Past Tour Information". Retrieved December 30, 2016.
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 2, 2009. Retrieved July 10, 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ Quan, Denise (February 4, 2009). "Eddie Van Halen reinvents the guitar". CNN. Retrieved July 15, 2011.
  14. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Van Halen – Van Halen". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved November 22, 2011.
  15. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: V". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved March 9, 2019 – via
  16. ^ Rock, Classic (30 February 2019). "Album Of The Week Club: Van Halen - Van Halen". Retrieved 2019-04-30. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  17. ^ Graff, Gary; Durchholz, Daniel (1999). MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide. Visible Ink Press. ISBN 978-1-57859-061-2.
  18. ^ a b Q, August 2000
  19. ^ Edwards, Gavin (November 25, 2004). "Van Halen:Van Halen (2004 review)". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on February 14, 2008.
  20. ^ "Van Halen: Album Guide | Rolling Stone Music". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on December 10, 2012.
  21. ^ George-Warren 2001, p. 1028; Whitburn 2010, p. 683
  22. ^ Young, Charles M. (May 4, 1978). "Van Halen:Van Halen". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on April 27, 2007. Retrieved July 15, 2011.
  23. ^ "Rolling Stone : Van Halen: Van Halen : Music Reviews". April 27, 2007.
  24. ^ a b George-Warren 2001, p. 1028.
  25. ^ "Van Halen - Where to Start with - Kerrang". March 15, 2014.
  26. ^ "Gold & Platinum Searchable Database – February 21, 2014". RIAA. Archived from the original on September 5, 2013. Retrieved February 22, 2014.
  27. ^ "Van Halen – Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved April 30, 2015.
  28. ^ "Van Halen – Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved April 30, 2015.
  29. ^ a b c d Stephen Thomas Erlewine (February 10, 1978). "Van Halen - Van Halen | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved February 22, 2014.
  30. ^ Larkin 1994, p. 182.
  31. ^ Graff & Durchholz 1999, p. 1187.
  32. ^ a b c Levy 2005, p. 203.
  33. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. May 31, 2012. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
  34. ^ "100 Greatest Guitar Albums". Guitar World. October 2006. A copy can be found at "Guitar World's 100 Greatest Guitar Albums of All Time – Rate Your Music". Retrieved October 12, 2011.
  35. ^ "The 100 Best Debut Albums of All Time: 'Van Halen'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 22, 2014.
  36. ^ "Mohr Stories". Retrieved February 8, 2015.
  37. ^ "Kids record Van Halen 1 Live in One Day at Sunset Sound! - Produce Like A Pro". August 31, 2017.
  38. ^ "Van Halen - Van Halen". Discogs.
  39. ^ "Van Halen – Van Halen". Billboard. Billboard. Retrieved November 22, 2011.
  40. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Van Halen – Van Halen". Music Canada.
  41. ^ a b "Van Halen" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland.
  42. ^ "French album certifications – Van Halen – Van Halen" (in French). InfoDisc. Select VAN HALEN and click OK. 
  43. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Van Halen; 'Van Halen')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie.
  44. ^ "British album certifications – Van Halen – Van Halen". British Phonographic Industry. Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Van Halen in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  45. ^ "American album certifications – Van Halen – Van Halen". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 

Works cited