Van Halen (album)

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Van Halen
The album's cover artwork
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"
    Released: January 1978 (US)
  2. "Runnin' with the Devil"
    Released: April 1978
  3. "Jamie's Cryin'"
    Released: July 1978 (US)
  4. "On Fire"
    Released: September 1978 (Japan)
  5. "Ain't Talkin' 'bout Love"
    Released: September 1978 (US)[3]

Van Halen is the debut studio album by American rock band Van Halen, released on February 10, 1978, by Warner Bros. It is widely regarded as one of the greatest debut albums in rock[4][5][6] and was a major commercial success. The album peaked at number 19 on the US Billboard 200[7] and has sold more than 10 million copies in the United States. It received diamond certification by the RIAA and was received well by the general public making it one of the best-selling albums in the United States.[8]

Van Halen contains some of the band's most well-known songs, including "Runnin' with the Devil", "Ain't Talkin' 'bout Love", "Jamie's Cryin'", their cover version of the Kinks 1964 song "You Really Got Me", and the instrumental "Eruption"; played and written by guitarist Eddie Van Halen, it is widely regarded as one of the greatest guitar solos of all time and helped popularize two-handed tapping.[9]


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.[10] Simmons left to tour with Kiss after recording the demos, but said he would try to secure Van Halen a record deal afterwards.[11]

After recording the demos, the band 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.[12] 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 subsequent performance at the Starwood, and Van Halen proceeded to sign a contract with Warner.[13] The recording of their debut album began August 29, 1977[14] and lasted three weeks. With producer Ted Templeman, it was mostly recorded live.[15] "Runnin' with the Devil", "Jamie's Cryin'", "Feel Your Love Tonight" and "Ice Cream Man" contain guitar overdubs.[16] 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."[17]

The subsequent tour began with the band opening for rock acts such as Journey and Montrose in the United States.[18] They later opened for heavy metal band Black Sabbath in Europe and the United States.[19]

Packaging and artwork[edit]

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 is Eddie Van Halen's signature Frankenstrat (before he added the red paint), a highly customized Stratocaster-style guitar built out of replacement parts.

The liner notes thank radio disc jockey Rodney Bingenheimer and Kiss bassist Gene Simmons,[20] the latter usually credited with discovering Van Halen.[21] "A lot of people stick me on their [thanks list], even though I don't deserve it," Simmons remarked. "One that I did deserve to be on was that first Van Halen record – the guys still owe me a couple thousand bucks! But I love 'em."[22]

Release and reception[edit]

Retrospective professional reviews
Review scores
Christgau's Record GuideC[24]
Classic Rock[25]
MusicHound Rock5/5[26]
Rolling Stone[28]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[29]

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.[30]

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."[31] 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."[32] 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."[24]

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."[33] She notes that, even before the band's debut, "Eddie became a legend among local guitarists."[33]

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."[34]

Record World called the single "Jamie's Crying" a "driving rhythm piece, which may be [Van Halen's] most interesting single to date." saying that "its rock energy never lets up."[35]

Commercial performance[edit]

On August 7, 1996, Van Halen was re-certified by the RIAA for selling ten million copies in the United States alone.[36] One of only seven 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. On October 22, 1984, the album went to 5× Multi-Platinum status. 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.[8]

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.[8] 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 2020.[37]


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.[38] He explains, "The reason it's never given the same due is that there's no pretension, nothing self-conscious about it."[38] 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."[38] In Erlewine's opinion, the album "set the template for how rock and roll sounded for the next decade or more."[38] A retrospective review by Q noted, "Hit singles came later, but this dazzling debut remains their trump card."[27]

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.[39] 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."[26] In 2003, Rolling Stone, listed it among The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, at number 410;[40] the list's 2012 edition had it ranked 415th.[41] The 2020 list placed it at 292. 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.[40] 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."[40] In 2006, Guitar World readers ranked it number 7 on a list of the Greatest Guitar Albums of All Time.[42] In 2013, Rolling Stone listed the album at number 27 of the 100 Best Debut Albums of All Time.[43]

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.[44]

Track listing[edit]

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" 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
1."Jamie's Cryin'" 3:31
2."Atomic Punk" 3:02
3."Feel Your Love Tonight" 3:43
4."Little Dreamer" 3:23
5."Ice Cream Man"John Brim3:20
6."On Fire" 3:01


Van Halen[edit]


  • 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



(United States)

Year Single Chart Peak position
1978 "You Really Got Me" US Billboard Hot 100[58] 36
1978 "Runnin' with the Devil" US Billboard Hot 100[58] 84


Certifications for Van Halen
Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[59] 4× Platinum 400,000^
Finland (Musiikkituottajat)[60] Gold 25,305[60]
France (SNEP)[61] Gold 100,000*
Germany (BVMI)[62] Gold 250,000^
Netherlands (NVPI)[63] Platinum 100,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[64] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[65] Diamond 10,000,000^

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Renoff 2015, p. 279.
  2. ^ "Sunset Sound" (PDF).
  3. ^ Strong, Martin Charles (1995). The Great Rock Discography. p. 866. ISBN 9780862415419.
  4. ^ "Readers' Poll: The Ten Greatest Debut Albums". Rolling Stone. April 3, 2013. Retrieved May 1, 2023.
  5. ^ "100 Greatest Rock Debut Albums". Retrieved May 1, 2023.
  6. ^ "The 10 Greatest Rock Debut Albums Of All Time". I Love Classic Rock. Retrieved May 1, 2023.
  7. ^ "Album Chart for 1978-05-27". Music Charts Archive. Retrieved May 1, 2023.
  8. ^ a b c "You searched for van halen - RIAA". RIAA.
  9. ^ "50 greatest guitar solos of all time". NME. November 11, 2017. Archived from the original on November 11, 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  10. ^ "Volume: Van Halen - Biography and Discography at HardHarderHeavy". (in German). Archived from the original on January 12, 2017. Retrieved December 30, 2016.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ Tolinski 2010, p. 38.
  14. ^ "Sunset-Sound.pdf" (PDF). Sunset Sound. Retrieved February 3, 2022.
  15. ^ Tolinski 2010, p. 116.
  16. ^ Renoff 2015, p. 561.
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Journey's Past Tour Information". Retrieved December 30, 2016.
  19. ^ "Black Sabbath Online: Tour Dates 1978". Archived from the original on July 2, 2009. Retrieved July 10, 2009.
  20. ^ "Van Halen (1978)". albumlinernotes. Retrieved February 3, 2022.
  21. ^ "Gene Simmons Reveals The Van Halen Demo Most Deserving Of Release: 'It'll Make Your Jaw Drop'". Van Halen News Desk. December 10, 2020. Retrieved February 3, 2022.
  22. ^ Gitter, Mike (March 6, 1993). "Talkin' 'bout revolutions". Kerrang!. No. 433. p. 39.
  23. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Van Halen – Van Halen". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved February 10, 2023.
  24. ^ 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
  25. ^ Rock, Classic (February 19, 2018). "Album Of The Week Club: Van Halen - Van Halen". Retrieved April 30, 2019.
  26. ^ a b Graff & Durchholz 1999, p. 1187.
  27. ^ a b Q, August 2000
  28. ^ Edwards, Gavin (November 25, 2004). "Van Halen:Van Halen (2004 review)". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on February 14, 2008.
  29. ^ "Van Halen: Album Guide | Rolling Stone Music". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on December 10, 2012.
  30. ^ George-Warren 2001, p. 1028; Whitburn 2010, p. 683
  31. ^ Young, Charles M. (May 4, 1978). "Van Halen:Van Halen". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on April 27, 2007. Retrieved July 15, 2011.
  32. ^ "Rolling Stone : Van Halen: Van Halen : Music Reviews". Rolling Stone. April 27, 2007. Archived from the original on April 27, 2007.
  33. ^ a b George-Warren 2001, p. 1028.
  34. ^ "Van Halen - Where to Start with - Kerrang". March 15, 2014. Archived from the original on March 15, 2014.
  35. ^ "Hits of the Week" (PDF). Record World. August 26, 1978. p. 1. Retrieved February 13, 2023.
  36. ^ "Gold & Platinum Searchable Database – February 21, 2014". RIAA. Archived from the original on September 5, 2013. Retrieved February 22, 2014.
  37. ^ "Billboard 200 Charts, Week of October 17, 2020". Billboard. Retrieved October 15, 2020.
  38. ^ a b c d Stephen Thomas Erlewine (February 10, 1978). "Van Halen - Van Halen | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved February 22, 2014.
  39. ^ Larkin 1994, p. 182.
  40. ^ a b c Levy 2005, p. 203.
  41. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. May 31, 2012. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
  42. ^ "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.
  43. ^ "The 100 Best Debut Albums of All Time: 'Van Halen'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 22, 2014.
  44. ^ "Mohr Stories". YouTube. Archived from the original on April 29, 2016. Retrieved February 8, 2015.
  45. ^ "Prime Cuts: Eddie Van Halen Breaks Down 10 Van Halen Classics, from 'Eruption' to 'Right Now'". Guitar World. Archived from the original on December 20, 2016. Retrieved December 9, 2016.
  46. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  47. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue 3556". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  48. ^ a b " – Van Halen – Van Halen" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  49. ^ Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970–2005 (in Japanese). Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 4-87131-077-9.
  50. ^ " – Van Halen – Van Halen". Hung Medien. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  51. ^ "Van Halen | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  52. ^ "Van Halen Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  53. ^ " – Van Halen – Van Halen". Hung Medien. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  54. ^ "Van Halen Chart History (Top Rock Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  55. ^ "Top Billboard 200 Albums – Year-End 1978". Billboard. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
  56. ^ "Top Billboard 200 Albums – Year-End 1979". Billboard. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
  57. ^ "Top Rock Albums – Year-End 2020". Billboard. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
  58. ^ a b "Van Halen Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  59. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Van Halen – Van Halen". Music Canada.
  60. ^ a b "Van Halen" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland.
  61. ^ "French album certifications – Van Halen – Van Halen" (in French). InfoDisc. Select VAN HALEN and click OK. 
  62. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Van Halen; 'Van Halen')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie.
  63. ^ "Dutch album certifications – Van Halen – Van Halen" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. Retrieved February 27, 2020. Enter Van Halen in the "Artiest of titel" box. Select 1984 in the drop-down menu saying "Alle jaargangen".
  64. ^ "British album certifications – Van Halen – Van Halen". British Phonographic Industry.
  65. ^ "American album certifications – Van Halen – Van Halen". Recording Industry Association of America.

Works cited

Further reading[edit]