Today (2/10) in 1978, Van Halen released their self-titled debut album. Van Halen were the first hard rock band to bring 60’s classicrock influences, a guitar hero with insane skills, an over the top, acrobatic frontman into one package. Their first album celebrated the California/Hollywood lifestyle and the album, especially Side 1, blew people away. Delve into the recording process & catch some interesting facts about the album.
The album’s first side is intense – ‘Running With The Devil’, Eddie’s amazing ‘Eruption’, their cover of Kink’s You Really Got Me’ and ‘Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love’.
The album continues with the other stand out tracks like the incredibly catchy ‘Jamie’s Cryin’ and the breezy and bluesy ‘Ice Cream Man’.
The Recording Process
The band recorded at Sunset Sound Recorders with Ted Templeman. Templeman recorded some big Doobie Bros albums there.
David Lee Roth adopted what was an unorthodox practice of vocal recording at the time. He sang his vocals live in a separate booth while the band was playing live in the booth next to him.
Many of the biggest artists in rock would record one vocal line at a time to get the ‘perfect sound’. That’s not what DLR and Van Halen did. Their raw recording style was similar to their wild on-stage persona and it came through on their album. It took them 3 weeks to record the album.
The Rush To Get ‘Kinky’
The band began rushing through the recording process because they were worried the band Angel was going to put out a cover of ‘You Really Got Me’ before they would. Eddie let Angel’s drummer hear a demo of the song & then found out that Angel was trying to record their own version of the tune and get it out before Van Halen’s album was released.
‘Mom, Dad, We’re On The Radio’
‘You Reallyl Got Me’ ended up being the first single off of the album. Eddie heard it on the radio at 2am and woke up his parents to tell them.
The photos on the album’s cover were shot at The Whiskey A Go Go.
The guitar Eddie Van Halen is holding on the cover is The Frankenstrat, the precursor to his legendary Frankenstein guitar.