Something from the archives of the Los Angeles Times:
Posted By: Scott Harrison
Posted On: 12:31 a.m. | December 5, 2013
July 9, 1978: David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen of rock band Van Halen celebrate their return to Southern California at the Long Beach Arena.
Columnist Robert Hilburn reported on the band’s success in the July 11, 1978, Los Angeles Times:
David Roth was excited. The 22-year-old lead singer with the Pasadena-based group wouldn’t go on stage at the Long Beach Arena for another three hours, but the adrenaline was already pumping. This was a show he had been looking forward to for years.
After a lengthy apprenticeship in the bars, small clubs and other stops on the local rock back streets, Van Halen has finally graduated to the big time. The multicolored streamers draped over the huge speaker columns at the arena added an appropriately festive touch.
“This is really special,” the slender, long-haired Roth said, sitting backstage after sound check. “We haven’t played L.A. since New Year’s Eve at the Whisky. It’s like our homecoming. We’ve been on the road since February and now we’ve got our first gold record. What better place to celebrate?
“We used to do shows everywhere around here. We played in Glendora at Louie’s Night Gallery, which was the size of this table. It was so small we used to tape my wallet to Alex’s snare drum to keep it from being too lout.
“We played at Rock Corporation in Van Nuys and did five shows a night of hard rock, no slow stuff. We played Gazzarri’s on the Strip, the Smokestack in Redondo Beach. We’d work five nights a week, seven nights a week, 23 nights a week…But we always felt we were moving ahead.
“From the minute we started, we felt we could make it. We thought, ‘We’re cool now and we’re going to be cooler.’ That’s why we never even bothered to take a demo tape around to the record companies.
“We figured if we were truly good, people would tell other people about us and someone from the record companies would finally pick up on what we were doing…”
The strategy worked. Mo Ostin, chairman of Warner Bros. Records, and Ted Templeman, a highly respected producer, caught Van Halen’s show last fall at the Starwood and virtually signed the foursome on the spot…
This photo by retired Director of Photography Larry Armstrong, was published in the July 11, 1978, Los Angeles Times.