On this day in 1991, Van Halen opened the MTV Video Music Awards with a live performance of “Poundcake.”
The show’s host, Arsenio Hall, enthusiastically introduced the band as “The Greatest American Rock And Roll band EVER!”
More about Poundcake:
Three main guitar tracks make up this song, from the For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge album. They include two tracks of electric 12-string, a Roger Giffin custom guitar with Smith pickups. The prototype Peavey 5150 amplifier (designed by Eddie and James Brown) was also used.
Had it not been for Alex Van Halen, this song would have never been made. Eddie had recorded a 10 or 15-second riff while jamming one day, and while listening to it the next day, Alex picked up on it and brought it to Eddie’s attention. Eddie then turned that riff into Poundcake. Alex once insisted that the solo on this track is unfinished. Eddie explained that the solo wasn’t counted (in terms of bars) perfectly, but that it felt right.
Eddie used a Makita drill, set at 60 cycles, for parts of this song, including the intro. His tech Matt Bruck left the drill on the recording console after replacing the tubes in Eddie’s Soldano amp. When he came back, Eddie was using the drill in the solo for Poundcake. While on tour, the drill was stolen, but luckily Scott Smith, from The Inside magazine, had a replica drill that Eddie borrowed until the original was recovered.
This song is about Sammy’s ideal woman, plain and simple.
The song also appears on Best of Volume 1 and Live: Right Here, Right Now.
Sammy Hagar gives commentary on the “Poundcake” video here.