Legendary American disc jockey Rodney Bingenheimer recently stopped by the Sunset Sound Studios to recall the time he helped Van Halen break into the big time.
Bingenheimer was best known as a disc jockey at the Los Angeles rock station KROQ starting in the mid 70s. He helped several bands become successful in the American market including Blondie, the Ramones, The Sex Pistols, The Cure and Van Halen, who he first saw playing at Gazarri’s nightclub on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood.
“Myself and Hernando Cartwright Jr. used to hang out at Gazzarri’s,” said Bingenheimer in the video above. “[Van Halen] had their van parked out in front of Gazzarri’s and they were meeting in the van.”
Shortly after, Bingenheimer helped Van Halen secure gigs at the nearby Starwood nightclub where he was the club’s DJ. It was during those shows that Gene Simmons would see David Lee Roth, Eddie Van Halen, Alex Van Halen and Michael Anthony in action for the first time and eventually produce the band’s first demo. One of the songs on the demo was “Runnin’ With The Devil”, a track that would debut on KROQ’s airwaves thanks to a very persistent neighbor – David Lee Roth.
“He came up to see [me]. ‘Cuz remember, David Lee Roth lived down the street from KROQ,” said Bingenheimer. “His dad was the famous eye doctor in Pasadena. So he knocks on the door and here’s David Lee Roth with a cassette! [laughs]. He was always promoting.”
It wouldn’t be long after that KROQ began playing Van Halen’s first official single “You Really Got Me” and the rest is Van Halen history.