The 10 Shows That Made Van Halen Rock Legends
Van Halen live in 1978 - FresnoMediaRestoration / Youtube
Van Halen’s rise to fame was well documented in the first year of touring. In 1978, the hard rock act embarked on its first world tour that would turn them from local legends into international bestselling superstars. After being hired to headline a Journey stint, the band was involved with several renowned rock acts and encountered some interesting events along the way. Here are 10 particular shows that highlighted Van Halen’s career-defining moments.
March 3, 1978
The band headlined Journey in a Chicago, Illinois show, where Eddie Van Halen said that the nerves took over but things went progressively better as the show went on, as the crowd loved their songs. Journey was intimidated by this that they started sabotaging Van Halen’s PA. “There was nothing I could do. We were just really screwed and that was it,” said band roadie Tom Broderick.
March 6, 1978
When a Journey show in Madison, Wisconsin didn’t have enough room for three bands, Van Halen booked a show at a nearby inn. The band was successful in selling out tickets for the show, which they celebrated by trashing a local hotel. Steve Perry intervened and asked the band to slow down as the bill for property damage was already piling.
March 25, 1978
The first New York City show of Van Halen wasn’t really what they expected – booing and heckling were the main reactions when they appeared on stage.
May 18, 1978
Van Halen touring with Black Sabbath didn’t inspire much confidence for Ozzy Osbourne. “We were just too stunned to speak. We sat there, going, ‘that was incredible.’ Then, “there was a knock at the door and the best-looking man in the world (David Lee Roth) walked in and said hello,” the heavy metal frontman recalled.
July 1, 1978
Arriving from Japan, a weary Van Halen got the short end of the stick as they arrived for the Texxas Music Festival, as their equipment had been sent to Chicago instead. They did great on rented equipment, however. “That was what really made us down in Texas. It was one of our very best shows, and the crowd went nuts,” said Roth.
July 8, 1978
Van Halen did a homecoming headlining show in Long Beach Arena while on a break from their world tour. Selling out a 9,000 seat venue easily, the band spent $20,000 in special effects and equipment for that added performance flair.
July 13, 1978
In a New Orleans Superdome show with The Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger bans Eddie Van Halen’s customized bombshell prop, which carried his effects pedals.
July 23, 1978
While Van Halen was usurping their accompanying senior bands with ease, AC/DC was a different story. Eddie Van Halen was so nervous to follow them at the Day on the Green but managed to pull through. “I remember feeling that we held our own. I was really happy. … I didn’t think anybody could follow them,” he said.
August 12, 1978
The band was tasked to do a one-off show to headline Ted Nugent, who was big at that time. During Nugent’s set, however, the crown began to chant for Van Halen, prompting Nugent to yell “F– Van Halen!”
September 23, 1978
Outshining other acts was Van Halen’s way of making a statement. At Anaheim Stadium’s Summerfest:Flying, the crowd was treated to a parachuting sight of four figures that look very much like the band, jumping into a van and hitting the stage with their jumpsuits on. There was no way the real band did that, though, as they were in the van hours beforehand, “drinking, smoking, and pissing in a coffee can,” but it sure did great to curb the attention from Boston and Black Sabbath.
September 23, 1978
On the same night, Van Halen met their future frontman Sammy Hagar. In an interview with Ultimate Classic Rock, Hagar said Eddie was “shaking my hand, ‘Oh, Sammy, man. I’m a big fan, you know, Montrose, we used to play ‘Make It Last’ and ‘Rock Candy’’ and all of this stuff.” Some seven years later, Hagar would replace Roth and do four studio albums with the band.