This week in 1984, Van Halen began an incredible 5-week run at the top of the Billboard charts with their colossal hit, “Jump!”
Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the unforgettable video.
Marshall Berle [Van Halen manager, 1978]: Those videos Pete Angelus and Dave Roth created were the best I’ve ever seen.
Robert Lombard [Van Halen video producer, 1983]: Once Van Halen got into the MTV mode, they got into it. Dave was glued to that TV. He threw something through his TV set one night because they’d dropped in rotation on MTV. He cut an artery and ended up in Cedars-Sinai Hospital. Blood’s spurting out of him and he goes, “I’m David Lee Roth. I could buy this place.” The nurse told him, “Just sit down and shut up.” They were obsessed. It was like a new drug.
Pete Angelus: When I was in high school in Connecticut, I had a teacher who allowed me to make Super 8 films rather than take tests. That was 1973. I moved to the West Coast to go to UCLA film school, but my parking tickets started to exceed the cost of tuition. So I ended up on the Sunset Strip, and I interviewed with a gentleman named Mario who owned the Roxy and the Rainbow and the Whiskey A Go-Go. He gave me a job at the Roxy, probably in 1975. Van Halen asked me to travel with them—I’d designed their merchandise and worked on their album packages and logos, then I designed their productions and their lighting—and when MTV reared its ugly head, I thought well ok, the full circle has come back to me, so I’ll direct the videos.
Robert Lombard: “Jump” is where the drama really started. During the production of “Jump,” we had a high-end DP. Pete Angelus operated one of the cameras, but we never used any of his footage, because he didn’t know how to operate a 16mm camera to save his life. Dave wanted the performance video intercut with him doing crazy shit, like driving his chopped Merc hot rod and hanging out with midgets and girls in maids’ outfits. So we shot hours of footage.
Pete Angelus: Rather than doing something bigger than life, which is how Van Halen was perceived, we wanted something very personal. Let’s see if we can get Edward to smile. Of course, we also had to appease Dave, who wanted to throw his karate tricks into the equation.
Michael Anthony: There was getting to be a little bit of tension between us three and Dave.
Robert Lombard: I told the band, “I’m gonna shoot in sections.” Alex would show up, we’d do some drum segments, then bass, then guitar, then David. I didn’t shoot them together until the end of the day. I was trying to keep peace, because I felt tension amongst them. David thought he was bigger than the rest of them.
I was in post-production with a rough cut of the video. I knew that if they kept it as a straight-on performance video, they would have a number one single. So I took the rough cut to Eddie’s house and played it for him and his brother Alex. I said, “Guys, I’m taking a stand here. If you put in this crazy footage”—which later surfaced in “Panama,” after I was gone—”The video isn’t gonna have the impact it should have.” Eddie and Alex said, “We agree with you, one hundred percent. We’re not gonna release this video unless it’s done in this way.”
Two days later, I got fired. Noel Monk, their manager, said, “You don’t do that—you don’t go behind Dave’s back. Here’s your check, never want to see you again.” That video won the award for best performance video at the first VMAs. And I still don’t have my award.
- All of these recollections are from I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution, the fascinating book by by Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum.
- “Jump” was the number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100 for five straight weeks, from February 25, 1984 – March 29, 1984. Read more about the song and video on our “Jump” page.
Here’s a look at the special 3/4 sleeve jersey the management had made for the band and crew (a true collector’s item!):