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Van Halen (album)

Van Halen
Studio album by Van Halen
Released February 10, 1978
Recorded August – September 1977 at Sunset Sound Recorders, Hollywood [1]
Genre Hard rock, heavy metal
Length 35:34
Label Warner Bros.
Producer Ted 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 is the debut studio album by American rock band Van Halen. Released on February 10, 1978, the album peaked at number 19 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album became widely recognized as the band's popularity grew, selling more than ten million copies in the United States by 1999 and achieving RIAA diamond status.

Van Halen contains many of Van Halen's signature songs, including "Runnin' with the Devil", the guitar solo "Eruption", The Kinks cover "You Really Got Me", "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love", "Jamie's Cryin'", and the cover version of John Brim's "Ice Cream Man".


  • Packaging and artwork 1
  • Release and reception 2
  • Legacy 3
  • Track listing 4
  • Personnel 5
    • Band members 5.1
    • Production 5.2
  • Charts and certifications 6
    • Album 6.1
    • Singles 6.2
  • Certifications 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • Bibliography 10

Packaging and artwork

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, a Fender prototype replica of which is now housed in the Smithsonian Institution.[2]

Release and reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[3]
Robert Christgau C[4]
MusicHound 5/5 stars
Rolling Stone (2004) 5/5 stars[5]

In the United States, Van Halen's debut album reached number 19 on the Billboard Hot 100; their debut single, a cover of the Kinks' "You Really Got Me", spent three weeks on the chart, peaking at number 36.[6]

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, music critic Robert Christgau gave the album a negative review, writing: "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."[7] Also 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."[8]

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".[9] She notes that, even before the band's debut, "Eddie became a legend among local guitarists".[9]


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.[10] He explains, "The reason it's never given the same due is that there's no pretension, nothing self-conscious about it".[10] 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."[10] In Erlewine's opinion, the album "set the template for how rock and roll sounded for the next decade or more".[10] A retrospective review by Q noted, "Hit singles came later, but this dazzling debut remains their trump card."[11]

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.[12] 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".[13] In 2003, Rolling Stone, listed it among The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, at number 410.[14] 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.[14] 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".[14] In 2006, Guitar World readers ranked it number 7 on a list of the Greatest Guitar Albums of All Time.[15] In 2013, Rolling Stone listed the album at number 27 of the 100 Best Debut Albums of All Time.[16]

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 album.[17]

Track listing

All songs written and composed by Eddie Van Halen, Alex Van Halen, David Lee Roth and Michael Anthony, except where noted. 
Side A
No. Title Length
1. "Runnin' with the Devil"   3:36
2. "Eruption" (instrumental) 1:42
3. "You Really Got Me" (Ray Davies) 2:38
4. "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love"   3:50
5. "I'm the One"   3:47
Side B
No. Title Length
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 Brim) 3:20
6. "On Fire"   3:01


Band members


Charts and certifications

In 1999, Van Halen was re-certified by the RIAA for selling ten million copies in the US alone.[18] 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, 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 1999. 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.[19][20]


Billboard (North America)
Year Chart Position
1978 Pop Albums[21] 19
1984 The Billboard 200 117


Billboard (North America)
Year Single Chart Position
1978 "You Really Got Me" Pop Singles 36
1978 "Runnin' with the Devil" Pop Singles 84
1978 "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love"


Region Certification Sales/shipments
Canada (Music Canada)[22] 4× Platinum 400,000^
Finland (Musiikkituottajat)[23] Gold 25,305[23]
France (SNEP)[24] Gold 100,000*
Germany (BVMI)[25] Gold 250,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[26] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[27] 10× Platinum 10,000,000^

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

See also


  1. ^ Sunset Sound
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ George-Warren 2001, p. 1028; Whitburn 2010, p. 683
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b George-Warren 2001, p. 1028.
  10. ^ a b c d
  11. ^ 'Q, August 2000
  12. ^ Larkin 1994, p. 182.
  13. ^ Graff & Durchholz 1999, p. 1187.
  14. ^ a b c Levy 2005, p. 203.
  15. ^ A copy can be found at
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ a b
  24. ^ Select VAN HALEN and click OK
  25. ^
  26. ^ Enter Van Halen in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Gold in the field By Award. Click Search
  27. ^ If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH


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