On this day in 1984, Van Halen’s colossal hit “Jump” began its four-week peak at #1 on the U.S. Billboard’s Singles chart. “Jump” knocked out Culture Club’s “Karma Chameleon” to hold the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for five weeks. “Jump” is the only Van Halen single ever to hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song thereafter secured its place among rock music’s most popular songs, and is now considered by some to be one of the most influential rock songs of all time.
“Jump” was the second song Van Halen recorded at Ed’s “5150”studio. (Their cover of “In The Midnight Hour” was the first, which remains unreleased). David Lee Roth wrote the lyrics in the backseat of his Mercury convertible.
Parts of Jump had originally been written on the back of a tour bus in the late 1970s/early 1980s. However, the band had always felt the song didn’t quite fit any of the albums they’d been working on. David Lee Roth and Ted Templeman were the biggest opponents of Eddie’s keyboard songs and consistently vetoed recording this song for more than two years.
When Eddie gained control in the studio by building 5150, he was able to record more with just Alex and Don Landee. One day the three laid down the basic tracks to the song and presented it the following day to Dave, Mike, and Ted. Whether the rest of the band truly loved the song or felt somewhat compelled to record it is not known, but soon Dave was writing lyrics for it.
David wrote the lyrics around a single phrase: “go ahead and jump.” He came up with the line after watching the news and seeing a man on top of the Arco Tower threatening to commit suicide. The vocalist thought that there’s always at least one person in the crowd telling the guy to “go ahead and jump.”
Eddie recorded the song using an Oberheim OBX-A keyboard. The solo was spliced together from at least two different takes.
The ending of the song has a history all its own. The main riff for Top of the World was written around the ending of Jump. However, the ending of Jump had been heard before, during the 1983 Us Festival, when Eddie played it at the end of Dance the Night Away.
Jump spent 4 weeks at #1 on the charts. The single was certified gold on 04/03/84.
The video for Jump (the first from the album), produced by Robert Lombard and directed by Pete Angelus, debuted on 12/31/83. It was filmed using 16mm hand-held cameras at The Complex in Santa Monica, CA. The entire cost for the video was a little more than $6,000 (though David Lee Roth liked to claim the total cost was only $600).