Stream | Van Halen’s Parody Of “Lotta Love” By Nicollete Larson
Van Halen live in 1986 - Hazardteam / Youtube
Pop singer Nicolette Larson came to the world’s attention when she did backup vocal work with Neil Young, especially on his 1977 album American Stars n’ Bars. One of Larson’s songs of acclaim was “Lotta Love”, which was originally written by Young and given to her, and while it wasn’t clear as to how it landed on Larson’s lap – she claims Young gifted it to her, Linda Ronstadt says it was her idea to have Larson record it – it was clear that Larson was the right choice for the song.
It came out on her debut solo album, Nicolette, where she worked with Van Halen’s constant producing collaborator, Ted Templeman, and engineer Donn Landee. The two were also working on pushing out Van Halen’s demo tape for Warner Bros. Records. In an interview with Gregg Renoff, Landee recalled, “Ted and I were working on Nicolette Larson’s album. I let [Van Halen] hear the tape, and David [Lee Roth] said, ‘Hey, can I have a copy of that? We want to try something.’ Roth’s idea was to rewrite the song’s lyrics, changing the tones of peace and love to one of hard partying. The new version was called “It’s Gonna Take a Lotta Drugs.”
“So, David and Mike [Anthony] did ‘Gonna Take a Lotta Drugs’ [on] that tape. When we played it back, David and Mike said, “Do you think Ted’s gonna get mad about this?” Landee continued.
Templeman said, “I had been gone from the studio. I had a meeting or something. So the guys went in there and wrote this song: “It’s gonna take a lotta drugs to get us through the night!” Donn put them on Nicolette’s [backing] track. They loved that. I came back, and they were all nervous. But when Donn played it, I fucking cracked up.”
“Lotta Love” would go on to became Larson’s magnum opus, while Van Halen’s version never saw an official release. You can listen to both versions below.