On this day Edward Van Halen was born and we are thinking back to September 9th 1978. All of us were packed into the 71 VW Wagon (with a gas leak) on the way to Baltimore Civic Centre to see the Black Sabbath Never Say Die Tour, with “Special Guest” Van Halen. We had all bought the debut Van Halen album over the summer and were of course blown away. However, the banter on the way to the show was all about what we would, or more importantly, we NOT hear from the Van Halen set, specifically ERUPTION. Most were convinced EVH’s masterpiece ERUPTION, was recorded with a ton of studio trickery. It took about 40 minutes for us to find out once the lights went down. I can honestly say it might be the tightest opening set I ever saw. The band ripped through the 1st record with David Lee Roth, Michael Anthony and Eddie Van Halen in the finest form. It was the 2nd to last number before the encore before we heard the 1st salvo from EVH on ERUPTION. The hairs on my arms are standing up now just thinking about it, we still get chills…rock music or at least rock guitar would be different going forward. An amazing day in KnuckleBonz Superfan lore.
Van Halen Setlist Sept 9th, 1978 (Baltimore Civic Centre)
This was Van Halen’s 3rd studio release and they were now firmly atop the arena rock scene. Recorded in only 2 weeks, this record got lots of airplay, but take some time today to drop the needle on a couple of tracks. “Everybody Wants Some!!” is a fav here at KnuckleBonz. The intro shows off Eddie Van Halen’s effects wizardry and subtlety before the entire band comes in at 1:09 with the opening riff. No better way to kick off a weekend. Also too, check out a somewhat unheralded track that starts off Side 2, “Tora Tora.” The EVH effects mastery is on display again but there is a ominous heaviness to this song that is a little “Un-Halen-like”. Eddie plays an imposing trill that Tony Iommi would be proud of.
By this time Eddie’s playing is getting wide praise across the music industry with Rolling Stone making Hendrix comparisons. Thankfully they state that Eddie Van Halen “is no clone” which any Van Halen fans knows he was not. Rolling Stone had a bad habit of hating on bands all of us dug. Glad they got this one right.
If you were lucky enough to see the original Van Halen lineup of brothers Eddie Van Halen, Alex Van Halen, Michael Anthony and David Lee Roth, you will might will probably remember the dive boming EVH speaker and effect rig, complete wity the “speaker bomb” looming stage left. I say “might”, will get to that in a second. This was the engine for Eddie’s early tone and effects. Here’s a shot of a faithful replica from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, “The Met”, from the EVH “PLay It Loud” Expo.
Visually this says everything about the creator Eddie Van Halen, an amazing edgy esthetic with the WWII era bomb casting that held some of Eddie’s effects. All built by the guitar virtuoso and “gadeteer genius” of EVH on basically no $budget, just like the original Frankenstrat guitar also pictured. This rig went out with the band on their first world tour in support of amazing acts like Montrose, Ted Nugent and Black Sabbath. We were lucky to see Van Halen open for Sabbath in Sept 1978 at the Baltimore Civic Center. The stage lighting had heavy spots and the full light rig was not in use for VAn Halen as an opening act, so did not ever really notice the black speaker bomb against the live dark stage backdrop. It was only later we saw it a Creem Magazine photo. All that went to show immediately got into a heated argument about if it was really there at our show and we somehow missed noticing it…ahh the good ole’ day.
There was not book that could teach Eddie how to achieve the sounds he had in his head…so he wrote his one.