News

Here's Billboard's First Van Halen Review From 1978

Eddie Van Halen, a guitar virtuoso who never lost sight of the sheer joy of rockin' out, passed away on Tuesday (Oct. 6) after battling cancer. The influential instrumentalist was 65.

Lending his name to the hard rock quartet Van Halen, Eddie Van Halen was a frequent presence on the Billboard Hot 100 in the '70s and '80s, thanks to his band and the scorching guitar solo he provided for Michael Jackson's No. 1 smash "Beat It." Even so, he often downplayed the latter: "It was 20 minutes of my life. I didn’t want anything for doing that...I literally thought to myself, ‘Who is possibly going to know if I play on this kid’s record?’" he told Billboard in a 2015 cover story of that iconic "Beat It" solo.

Van Halen scored five No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 and 20 Hot 100 hits, including the 1984 chart-topper "Jump." And from the jump, Billboard was on board the Van Halen train. In the Feb. 25, 1978 issue of Billboard, a review of Van Halen's self-titled LP appeared in the now defunct "First Time Around" section (which reviewed albums from then-fresh acts) on the Top Album Picks page. Correctly singling out "You Really Got Me," "Runnin' with the Devil" and "Jamie's Cryin'" as the standout cuts (though justice for "Ice Cream Man"!), Billboard noted that AM programmers had "already accepted" the act into radio rotation.

Here's the full review from early '78: "Paced by Netherland-born Alex and Edward Van Halen, along with California's Michael Anthony on bass and Dave Lee Roth's lead vocals, this quartet plays some of the most intense rock n' roll you'll hear. Its fiery brand of bar room, small club loud driving rock contains some blistering guitar riffs by Edward Van Halen along with the powerful bass riffs of Anthony. Roth's vocals never quit. The album's first single, a remake of the Kinks' "You Really Got Me," is already climbing the Hot 100."

RIP to one of the best to ever pick up a guitar.

Eddie Van Halen Picks His All-Time Favorite Guitar Riffs