So Van Halen fans, you think you’ve heard and seen everything when it comes to Van Halen? Here are nine not-so-easy-to-find moments throughout the band’s career you may not have heard or seen … until now.
1) Could This Be Michael Anthony — Or Could This Be Someone Else?
The harmonies heard on the first six Van Halen albums are the stuff of legend and that has a lot to do with original Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony’s backing vocals. There is one song, however, Michael can’t take all the credit for.
At the 2:26 mark of the track “Could This Be Magic?” if you listen closely, you can hear a female voice singing the main chorus along with the band. That is the angelic voice of the late Nicolette Larson, one of producer Ted Templemann’s artists at Warner Brothers Records.
2) (Oh) I Think I Missed A Line
Sometimes it’s what you don’t hear in a song that stands out more than what you do. That’s the case with 1982’s “(Oh) Pretty Woman”.
Coming off of Van Halen’s 1981 tour to support the ‘Fair Warning’ album, David Lee Roth was eager to keep the band in the spotlight so it was decided that the band quickly record and release a cover of Roy Orbison’s “Oh, Pretty Woman”. With Dave and Edward Van Halen in a rush to complete the song they didn’t realize until afterwards that a portion of the original lyrics were left out.
At 1:43 into the track, after Roth sings, “Cuz I need you, need you tonight”, he’s supposed to follow with, “Come with me baby, be mine tonight.” There was no baby to be mine tonight, however, as he skipped right past the line and headed straight for the chorus.
3) Your Parents’ Homework Was Never Quite Like This
With a beautiful blonde woman dancing in a bikini it’s kind of hard to focus on anything else going on at the 2:57 mark of Van Halen’s classic “Hot For Teacher” video, but take another look. This time, focus on the blackboard behind the teacher. On that blackboard are a set of numbers which read “20-9-8-19-25-12-15-8”. Affix those numbers to a letter in the alphabet and it spells out “HOLY SHIT” backwards. As in, “HOLY SHIT” this is the greatest video ever made.
4) Jump…..To The Top Of The World
If the riff to 1991’s “Top Of The World” sounded familiar to you when you first heard it you weren’t imagining it. It just so happens that Edward Van Halen used that same lick on the band’s #1 single “Jump”. Just “jump” to the 3:49 mark of the song and you’ll hear that familiar riff make its brief appearance as the song fades out. Seven years later, it would return and carry Van Halen to the top of the charts once more. “Top Of The World” cracked the top 40 at #27 on Billboard.
5) Van Halen’s Mystery “Inside” Man
No you’re not going crazy, you really are hearing voices on Van Halen’s song “Inside”. The question is – Who exactly are the voices talking about?
This synth-bass led track which finishes out the 1986 album ‘5150’ includes band members vocally riffing on whatever topic comes to mind such as alimony, JC Penny clothing and the need for cheeseburgers. There’s one comment at the 4:41 mark of this track, however, that doesn’t seem to fit in with the rest. Pay close attention to the left audio channel and you will hear Alex asking, “Hey, is Gregg back yet?” Just who is Gregg, where did he go and why does Alex want him back? The Van Halen News Desk may have to do some investigative reporting to find out.
[Jeff at VHND notes: Good ear, Eric. I never noticed that line before. That had to be the late, great, Gregg Emerson, Alex’s longtime tech!]
6) Sammy Sings “5150” With A David Lee Roth T-Shirt
It turns out that there is one time that both Sammy Hagar and David Lee Roth performed on stage together during a Van Halen concert. Well, kind of. Let’s take a closer look at the band’s 1986 concert DVD “Live Without A Net”.
The moment occurred during Van Halen’s concert on August 27th, 1986 in New Haven, a.k.a. “New Halen”. The cameras not only captured the world’s greatest band tearing it up musically on stage, they also managed to catch Sammy’s brief encounter with a David Lee Roth t-shirt.
At the 6:14 mark of the song “5150,” Sammy picks up a blue t-shirt thrown onto stage from the audience. He takes a look at the shirt, flashes his pearly whites with a big smile, then shoves the shirt down his pants before hitting the high notes at the end of the song.
So what was on that shirt that prompted such a reaction from The Red Rocker? Why did he not hold it up for everyone to see, like he often does? Take a look at a freeze-frame breakdown of that moment, and you’ll notice that it is actually a David Lee Roth ‘Eat ‘Em And Smile’ tour shirt.
Now watch the moment happen in real time:
7) David Lee Roth, Sammy Hagar, Gary Cherone and Sherman The Dog?
Edward Van Halen has been known for creating some unusual animal sounds with his guitar. We’ve heard his horse whinnies, elephant roars, bird chirps and even dinosaur calls, but a dog howl is one he can’t lay claim to. That honor goes to his dog Sherman.
At the 3:45 mark of the instrumental “Baluchitherium” from 1995’s ‘Balance’ album, listen carefully for the sound of a dog howling. That’s coming from good ole’ Sherman. Not too long after ‘Balance’ was released Sammy Hagar was out of the band. Too bad Sherman didn’t get a shot at the job. C’mon Ed, throw Sherman a bone!
8) Runnin’ The Wrong Way With The Devil
Just a bit of “fair warning” for those of you who happen to buy a used copy of Van Halen’s 1996 “Best Of Volume I” – If it’s an early pressing of the cd, you may be a little confused with what you hear, particularly track three.
It turned out that early pressings of the cd contained an alternate edit of the band’s iconic song “Runnin’ With The Devil”. In those copies the song’s verses, chorus and solos were arranged in the wrong order. It was reported that the inclusion of the song as-is was merely accidental. Warner Brothers eventually corrected the mistake on future releases. Below is the version which appeared on the original pressings:
9) OU8The Ending To “Finish What You Started”!
Here’s another “Best Of” Van Halen Easter Egg, only this time from their 2004 double disc compilation “The Best Of Both Worlds”.
On the band’s 1988 album ‘OU812,’ their hit song “Finish What Ya Started” fades out at the end. On “The Best Of Both Worlds”, however, the song doesn’t fade out at all. It’s the same length as the version on OU812, but instead of fading out, it just keeps on going at full volume, until ending very abruptly during the outro. It sure doesn’t sound right, does it?
Unlike the ‘Best Of Volume 1’ mistake on “Runnin’ With The Devil” this was done intentionally according to producer Glenn Ballard who said, “We retrieved the analog master from the vault, only to learn that it needed to be treated or ‘cooked’ to restore its ability to be reproduced on the analog machine. The original two-track mix ends exactly as presented on the new ‘Best of Both Worlds’. In the first mastering of the record nearly twenty years ago it was faded manually and that is the way it appears on the original ‘OU812’. We literally decided to let it ‘finish’ in its truly original form, almost like a ‘director’s cut.'”
So much for happy endings.
So did we miss any? Let us know if you’ve discovered Van Halen Easter Egg #10.
By VHND contributing writer, Eric Senich.